Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mass Burial - Of Carrion and Pestilence (2012)

It's getting to the point at which so many bands are representing the cult Swedish sound of the late 80s/early 90s that it's becoming nigh on tedious to wade through all their guts and bones, but here we've got a Spanish act, Mass Burial who after a decade of planning have decided to do just that. Granted, they've got a more primitive edge to their compositions than a lot of other bands waxing nostalgic over Left Hand Path, Clandestine, Into the Grave, Dark Recollections, Like an Ever Flowing Stream and so forth, but I couldn't help but feel that the dark, oppressive atmosphere created on this debut was a fraction better handled than the songwriting itself. Then again, if you're a fan of such simplistic aesthetics in your old school brutality, I can't imagine how this would put you off.

The massive, internal organ rupturing Sunlight style guitar tones are puked out through a slew of relatively average, familiar chord progressions built upon the same punk thrust that characterized old Entombed. Faster, driving pieces like "Intense Genital Punishment" and the oft blasting "Virulent Infestation" are measured off against doomed, grooving sequences like the intro to their namesake "Mass Burial" or the leaden chug of "Deathlike Dream". They're good at coming up with exciting (if not incredibly memorable) leads and sad melodies that give you that sepulchral feeling of the older Swedish records, and the atmosphere created by Raúl Puente's vocals is a garbled, gravesoil-stuffed hybrid of L-G Petrov, Matt Karki and Autopsy's Chris Reifert that seems suitably crude for the riffing beneath it. The bass is swollen and contributes to the aural depth of the aggression, though it's never really something that stands out next to the distorted molasses of the guitar tone or the resonance of the vocals.

I certainly don't mind this style. Despite its obvious level of saturation in the European scene (and beyond), there are still plenty of bands doing it justice with their own interpretations of the classics. Of Carrion and Pestilence is sadly not one of those sorts of records. It nails the tone and the atmosphere of the albums that influenced it, but lacks the haunted and hypnotic notation or the perfect punctuation of the ghastly vocals so requisite to warrant numerous re-visitations. Despite the dynamics present in the songs, and the contrast of the leads to the muddy timbre of the rhythm guitars, the whole of the experience seems to run together, the only distinctions the few deviations used, like the raunchy, cleaner guitar and spoken vocals in the title track. If you are hopelessly smitten with this style, and a massive fan of the primacy in Cianide, Carnage Autopsy, Nihilist and early Grave, or newer bands like Funerus or Mr. Death, then have at it, just don't expect a lot of its hooks to sink into your flesh.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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