Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heretic Soul - Born Into This Plague (2010)

Turkish metal has always fascinated me, as I attended University with a friend from the country who got me into the band known there as Pentagram (Mezarkabul elsewhere), but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of coverage in the more extreme field of death metal. I'm aware of the band Cenotaph, listened to a few of their albums, and thought they were decent, but outside of this, Heretic Soul is one of my few exposures. Born Into This Plague is the band's debut, issued through Chicago's Rotting Corpse Records to follow up their Life Becomes Our Grave EP (2008), and though it shows some potential, it suffers from a few issues that mire it down into relative mediocrity. The band is brutal and attempts to capture an array of dynamics within their music, but some of them feel all too familiar and there is just not enough worthwhile riffing to push them over the top.

There is no single vantage point for which to compare this artist. They seem to have a penchant for the grooves and squeals common to brutal USDM bands, and even sprinkle in a few simplistic chugged breakdowns, but they also have a faster, blasted side which carries more of a Morbid Angel or early Suffocation influence, so most of the bases are covered. They are not the most technically endowed band, opting instead for straight up brutality conceived through primordial writing, and there would be nothing wrong with this, only that there seems to be a dearth of truly compelling riffs manifested across the album. The initial track, "The Truth Dwells In Your Head", is not the strongest, opening with a brief volley of blasted, old school rhythms that dives into a typical chug/squeal breakdown that was used up by the mid 90s. Later in the song is another series of open mute chugs that really could have been opted out for something better, and in all, its very underwhelming. Not a best foot forward scenario.

The album tries to clean up after itself with the following "Deadliest Enemy", a blasted slab of murder wrought from the inspiration of USDM like Malevolent Creation, Suffocation, Diabolic and other East Coast criminals. The first breakdown in this song is a little better, with some clean notes dragging up the tail end to make it feel less frivolous. I was not engaged by the melodic bridge, and unfortunately there's another chugged breakdown near the end which feels like something Earth Crisis or Hatebreed would have written many a moon ago. "Mental Decay" is far stronger, with some harmonic saber rattling over the intro riff and then a big, Sepultura-like groove ala Chaos A.D. before they pick up speed. I especially enjoyed the riffing later in the song, which created a huge atmosphere over the growls, and reminded me of Bolt Thrower. Not a single, shitty breakdown found here, and thus it's easily superior to the first two tracks.

"Suffering From Existence" maintains a warlike pacing with a mix of rolled double-bass tank segments and blasted bits, with a better breakdown that makes good use of the drummer. "Faceless" ranges from thunder to thrash, to war metal and back to thunder and thrash, with only a menial breakdown; "Worship Me" is another mix of Sepultura/Bolt Thrower; "Beyond Hatred" is introduced through some clean guitars and moody atmosphere before transforming into a solemn, melodic floe over hammering mid-blasts; and both "Life Becomes Our Grave" and "Twenty One Grams" combine some reasonable grooved walls of chords with disposable breakdowns.

Born Into this Plague never truly escapes the low expectations it sets up for itself, and that's a shame, because there is clearly some passion for old school, 90s extremity at work. There are a few good riffs scattered throughout, but even these could use some further gestation to increase their ear candy resonance. The vocals are nothing out of the ordinary, and the compositions do not set up any impressive musicianship due to its primitive, mosh-fueled nature. There are points at which the album captures to great old vibes of Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Incantation and a number of other bands, but it does nothing to vault itself into their unhallowed company. There's nothing grating or 'wrong' with Heretic Soul, aside from the use of a few cheap and unimaginative breakdowns, but an added element of intricacy would go a long way towards helping them identify against the endless legions of other bands out there.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]

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