Every now and then I develop a craving for some good old, down home US-styled death metal. Nothing exceedingly technical. No Swedish style guitars. No Polish intimidation (what can I say, they are too good for our own good). No spastic grind or deathcore. No gurgling pig squeal slam style. No cavernous Incantation worship. Surely I enjoy all these things to varying degrees, but no, this time I wanted something which took me back to the head on bludgeoning of Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Suffocation, and the Dutch Severe Torture, as they have several times in their career, have delivered it to me with a butcher shop full of human debris and a goddamn bill for the handiwork, graphic gratuity tax included!
Slaughtered is the band's 5th proper full-length effort, and it delivers upon all the promise of previous works like the excellent Misanthropic Carnage or the more recent Sworn Vengeance. There's nothing quite unique about the Severe Torture formula. Combine the above influences, maybe toss in a nod to fellow Dutch killers like Sinister and Houwitser in the tendency for a surge towards relentless blasting, and let it all simmer for a span, as the band take their time to write decent songs rather than cutting and pasting a dozen riffs into a bludgeoning anthem and calling it finished. Slaughtered is extremely consistent. Unlike many of the band's younger peers, you can actually play this record from point A to B and find fulfillment for all 38 minutes. There are also some choice lyrics here, which entertain in their ghastly implications without sinking to the level of drunk frat boy serial killer fantasy gore:
Credulous mother of divine incest
Lavish praise for the whore of gods
Unfold your legs of deceit, receive my mutilation...
The violence begins abruptly, a "Grave Condition" with a precision blast of taut, thrashing rhythms that shift course and then return swiftly, the bridge an excellent breakdown with huge rhythm guitars that cede to the writhing entrail leadwork. "Unholy Misconception" again packs a powerful thrashing thrust before a rolling bridge in the verse, very reminiscence of modern Cannibal Corpse, then the slashing leads and brute blasting carry towards the refrain. The acrobatic intro to "Deride Jesus" actually shifts into a 'glorious', uplifting riff before it breaks down into more Corpse-like muted hammering, and "Defective Fornication" shows a hint of countrymen Pestilence in its escalating central riff! The flavorful forensics do not end here, because "Slaughtered", "Incarnation of Impurity", and "Swallowing Decay" are all complete with chunky, chopped liver guitar work that is memorable enough to mince out a great many listens.
Here is another grisly job done well by a band who receive far too little credit considering the general quality of their cuts. Severe Torture is like the skilled butcher you go too even though the local chain supermarkets sell their slabs of beef and poultry for about half the price. They've trimmed off as much fat and technical excess as possible from their sound, to deliver you only the best riffs possible in a dark, simmering production, and lyrics that actually transcend the simplistic gorgasmic orgy expected of so many bands in this genre. Slaughtered is one of the best pure death metal records I've heard this year, and it's about fucking time people started to listen in on one of Europe's finer craftsmen of the flesh.
Verdict: Epic Win [9.25/10] (not insurgent but compliant)