Monday, November 22, 2010

Disfigure the Insane - Ouroboros (2010)

The logo presentation for the Disfigure the Insane debut Ourorboros doesn't hold out much hope for the quality of its contents, but before I proceed I should probably establish what exactly this is. Disfigure the Insane is the project of Callum Cant and Craig Robinson, a pair of Scots with a good sense of humor and a sensible grasp of their own limitations (I found their MySpace page enormously entertaining, to tell the truth). Ouroboros is a good old twitching of the death metal nerve, and it's got more than its share of problems, but believe it or not, there is something quite more to it...

What really stunned me about this album is how similar it sounds to Morbid Angel's classic Altars of Madness, only completely batshit insane, and with a drum machine. If you take that ripping, old death/thrashing tone and apply it more chaotically with myriad time shifts that don't always make sense, you've come up with something nearing Disfigure the Insane. Granted, you'll hear some other sounds in here like Deicide, the sporadic intensity of Atheist, or even the vicious twist of black metal venom in some of the vocals, but the way the guitars tear off across the hostility of the vocals truly reminds me of Trey and David Vincent. Such vitriolic fuel makes a track like "Slaughter of Figures...Once Divine" or "Crooked Cage" not only tolerable, but honestly quite good. Both the bassist and guitarist have a solid level of ability, whether pounding out the rapid chords or masturbating into a little shred work.

There are downsides here, like the unfortunate "Kentucky Fried Children". Yes, the lyrics are obviously funny in that least effort sort of way, but my real issue was that it sort of steers away from the great, Altars of Madness feel I get from other compositions. Other tracks deviate from the formula with greater success, like "Ouroboros" itself which makes great use of evil, clinical guitars, or "Sado - Necropolism" which sounds like a jamboree of insane, progressive technical with a strangely uplifting in the bridge. The drum programming, while tight enough to keep the rhythms and even flip its own lid, simply doesn't service this sort of band as much as a live drummer (but they're working on it). Also, sometimes the compositions are so twisted that they tend to crash in upon themselves, with various riffs meshing together that make little sense and become distracting. Fortunately, this is not that often, and you can generally pick up what the band are putting down without achieving a migraine or colostomy.

So, what's next? Certainly, if Disfigure the Insane pulled themselves together, got a drummer and packaged these tunes properly, they would turn some heads. I noticed a lot of death metal bands from this region of the world like Mithras, Scythian and Dãm tend to channel the Morbid Angel influence heavily, but these Scots seem to jerk it forth straight from 1989 and layer it into a modern, spastic context. Ouroboros is a bit of a mess, but it would be foolish to ignore the potential pushing below that mess, like an unhatched fetus trying not to choke itself off in the umbilical, so it picks up a guitar and saws its own nutrient sac in half, dooming itself, and yet giving everyone in the inevitable operating room mental scars for life. Flawed? Most assuredly. Fun? You betcha.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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