Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slaughterday - Cosmic Horror DEMO (2013)

Slaughterday's demo elicited a mixed reaction from me. While the German duo seem particularly adept at presenting the listener with the crushing production and massive guttural vocals presence he or she would likely desire from this niche, more so than even many of their 'new old school death metal' peers, the actual songwriting is largely devoid of nuance and originality to the point that it is almost instantly vaporized from the memory. There are a few twists which help distance it from the lion's share of garden variety Left Hand Path, Like An Ever Flowing Stream worship which is really beginning to show its wear to this reviewer, but the incorporation of that obvious Swedish influenced rhythm guitar tone and the familiar propulsion of several of the riffing progressions can't really be ignored.
Cosmic Horror might look a little silly because of its crude cover, since they were obviously going for an all out nostalgia trip back when demos were alluringly imaginative and shoddily packaged, but once the first track "Abyss of Nameless Fear" erupts, it's no longer a laughing matter. This is loud, volatile, abrasive death metal set in the typical ancient 90s mold but dowsed up in the potential of what modern production aesthetics can bring to such archaic, simplistic material. This thing sounds every inch as rich and consuming as recent records by names like Asphyx or Hail of Bullets, which is impressive for a band at the demo stage (even though this particular demo is getting a release through F.D.A. Rekotz). The riffs sound like unused cattle bones and organs being ground up into feed or fertilizer, and the bass is just as churning and corpulent. The Nihilist/Entombed/Carnage comparisons immediately came to mind, but I'd say some of the chords used are also redolent of earlier Asphyx. Some of the riffs slow into a death/doom crawl, and in spots they will dress up the overpoweringly resilient chords with some melancholic melodies which recalled the British battle masters Bolt Thrower.

Drums reverberate just below the muscle of the rhythm guitar, which is actually fitting to the style. The vocals are like a hybrid of Karl Willetts, Chris Reifert and Martin van Drunen; deep and forceful but also leaving a trail of carnage in their sustain. These are all clear positives, and Slaughterday executes them almost as well as anyone else in this new generation of living tributes. But as far as the songwriting, it just wasn't there for me. Not once through the four tracks was I presented with any sort of surprise twist, and only a few of the melodies caught my ear in "Cult...", "Crawling in Secrecy", or "Abyss of Nameless Fear" (which is the most evil sounding and therefore the strongest among them). The grinding guitar tone does much to help dress up the riff selection, but otherwise it's somewhat underwhelming with the usual mix of doomed grooves, driving d beat uptempo swings, and caustic tremolo picking sequences. As a result, I felt these guys were better architects of sound than songs, and since I've heard simply too much of this style in the past 5-10 years, I was not overly impressed. If all you desire is more in this vein, then Cosmic Horror shouldn't disappoint you, but they'll either have to try something more interestingly structured, or at least come up with some truly killer hooks to leave much of an impact.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

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