Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Erytrosy - Incomplete Minds (1996)

Considering their instant, automatic appeal to the not-always-so-picky brutal death metal audience, I'm surprised Slovakia's Erytrosy is not brought up in more conversations regarding their chosen niche. After all, by the mid 90s, successful acts like Suffocation, Deicide and Cannibal Corpse were still generating traction in the underground. Cryptopsy was just getting out its smashing sophomore None So Vile that would prove so influential. Bands like Dying Fetus and Deeds of Flesh were releasing their debut full-lengths this same year. It all boils down to the fact that this was simply coming out of an obscure market, perhaps not readily available to anyone who wasn't specifically searching for it. Not that the Slovakians were bringing anything to the table that you couldn't have heard from a combination of the above, but Incomplete Minds is quite a tight, prescient, 'complete' package that I think a lot of today's young thugs might enjoy checking out.

This is essentially a very balanced mesh of old and new school techniques that struck right about the same time that the notion of a 'brutal death metal' subdivision was taking off. Loads of surgical, chugging patterns span a number of octaves, while you've got the requisite palm mute to squeal ratio and a lot of pure tremolo picked progressions that felt more archaic. The general tempo of the music is heavily reminiscent of the first four Cannibal Corpse records, with that same death/thrash zeal; but I heard quite a lot of riffs redolent of Effigy of the Forgotten. The chugging was also similar to Deicide's eponymous debut or its followup, Legion, but even more dynamic. Incomplete Minds features a lot of abrupt shifts in tempo, from middle paced grooves to steady blasting, but I can't say that they always feel important or intelligent; rather just an attempt to bewilder the listener into the precision with which the musicians can bounce back and forth while maintaining a consistent, pummeling clamor that makes only a tangential use of melody and atmosphere. A few lighter, progressive passages are strewn through the landscape (like the intro to "Ancient Structure of Endoparasites"), probably evidence of a Death/Cynic/Pestilence influence, but they're exceptions.

Unfortunately, like a lot of the earlier material from bands like Deeds of Flesh, Suffocation, Lividity or Internal Bleeding, I felt as if the production here was rather dry. The bass and treble of the distorted rhythm guitar doesn't generate much of a dichotomy, just a muddling percussion with enough clarity to distinguish the individual note patterns. Leads have a bit of airiness, but are likewise too straightforward to condition the bridges and melodies with an appreciable atmosphere. The drumming is fucking crazy, with ample use of the double bass drums for both blasting and slower paces, but I though the cymbals were rather mundane, the snare a bit too poppy, and the bass drum and guitar often intersperse with one another too their detriment. That said, the bassist is excellent here, offering great contrast to the melodies and enough volume that you could just follow him through most of the album. The vocals are a flat, guttural alternative to Frank Mullen or Craig Pillard, but you'll occasionally get this salacious, alien snarl that pokes through their syllabic bluntness. Nothing unique, but effective enough thanks to the constant riff transitions.

I though the industrial/ambient intro and outro pieces were too close to one another; on one hand it creates a sense of consistency and completion, mirrored bookends, but since Erytrosy doesn't engage in this sort of content through the death metal itself, they feel somewhat alienated. Would have been better to include more of this through the slower groove sections. Incomplete Minds also lacks truly engrossing riff composition; the patterns were fairly fresh for their time, but there are few 'money shots' where the guitars reach an orgasmic level of mutilation and inspiration. Probably another reason, aside from its relative obscurity, that this didn't dial the Slovakians onto the international underground radar grid quite as loudly as their US or European contemporaries. All told, though, this is a tight and reasonably ambitious debut album, which lives up to the rather intriguing cover art collage, and if you really love this end of the genre, and want to visit or revisit a precursor to the sounds you've become accustomed to through the releases of labels like Sevared, Comatose, or Amputated Vein, exhume and enjoy.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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