Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lithuria - Pimps of the Living Dead (2010)

What are a bunch of young Finns obsessed with horror flicks and gore to do but start a band to vent out all their twisted, mocking fantasies upon the metal populace? Well, I'm not sure how serious this Lithuria is about their devotion to carnal delights, but I do know that they can write a varied record which draws upon a number of styles in modern extremity. Guttural vocals that often draw upon Carcass-like snarls or pig squeals, stomping rhythms that mix up brutal death, slam death and even some hardcore elements with gang shouts, and one of the better productions I've heard from such a new band. The guitars are huge and punchy, the dynamic, pestilence melodies explosive, and the rhythm section is like a squad of malpractice surgeons making house calls.

Does Pimps of the Living Dead do anything to really stretch the envelope of this genre? Not exactly, but I felt like they offered a more brutal alternative to the American 'secret identity' band Ghoul, but without all the heavier thrash influence. It's immensely dumb, entertaining fun, and noticing the frivolous image the band goes for with the splattered blood and other cheesy horror props, I don't think the band had any ulterior motives except to have themselves a blast while the audience moshed and sloshed around in the oozing, vapid remains that might or might not come flying off the stage at a performance.

The recording is compact, modern and extremely punchy as the band blast away with "The Dying Process", a forward blitz of absolute brutality with mixed guttural/snarl vocals and some nice, simpler chug breakdowns amidst the bridge rhythms. The track ends with a gloomy, morbid atmosphere that recalls a little Pestilence, but with a keyboard instead of discordant guitars, and far more layered vocal squalor. "Pimps of the Living Dead" itself is more of a fun, shuffling thrash/death rhythm with some Sepultura-like siren guitars that twist into a little Necrophagist licking. Despite the excess of chugging, this tune really kicks its feet and it is quite fun, one of the best here. "Dead Embryo Vomit" opens like a Pantera brickhouse thrash rhythm gone Cannibal Corpse, and "Victim of Primitivity" has some dull, crawling mosh rhythms that break for a morbid, horror atmosphere in the clean, eerie guitars and roiling feedback ambiance. Other tracks that rock pretty hard include the choppy "Light Evacuates" and the twisting, grinding "World Ending Pestilence".

Lithuria is not above nor afraid to incorporate a wide range of styles into their composition, and this might actually work against them. At times they are as complex and forceful as the current crop of modern extreme death artists, but at some others they simplify themselves to a scorched morgue policy, with thick and simple groove/chugs that seem bent on providing a manic mosh atmosphere for the audience. I actually feel like the band balances everything pretty well. To the less discriminating, casual fan of brutal death or even deathcore/metalcore, the album might offer a lot of fun (which is rather the point). The band's lyrics and song inspirations are not quite so shallow as one might suspect, drawing successfully from campy horror flicks and doing them some justice. I was bowled over by the fresh sound of the band, but ultimately did not find too many of these songs memorable for very long. Strangely, the slam/chug elements, which I don't often enjoy when used to excess in death metal, did not distract me here, serving as efficient means to an end. Their occasional lapses into atmosphere were the most stunning moments on the record, and though this is decent in the end, I wonder if more of this exploration might improve the band in the future. Pimps of the Living Dead functions well enough though, if you dial down the expectations and you're looking only for a good time.

Verdict: Win [7/10]


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