Thursday, July 12, 2018

Zombiefication - Procession Through Infestation (2014)

Although they possess a whole ton of the elements that make for a Swedish death metal worship band, drowning in nostalgia for those early 90s classics ala Left Hand Path, Dark Recollections, Like an Everflowing Stream, and Clandestine, I thought it was interesting to watch the development of Zombiefication, being one of the rare Central American bands to adopt that sound, whereas so many of their peers are straight from Europe. And truth be hold, there was a sizable payoff when the band's 2013 sophomore full-length At the Caves of Eternal proved a notable improvement over their 2010 debut Midnight Stench in every category: the production, the musicianship, the songwriting potential. Fairly hot on the heels of that record, they released Procession Through Infestation, and it's an effort I'm rather split on, thinking they've once again made a formidable leap forward in one area while not exactly delivering in others...

I'll lead in with the production, which I found absolutely fantastic and the high point of this disc. As a band so thickly rooted in that old, raucous, heavy Entombed aesthetic, I loved how hugely it comes across on the recording. The rhythm guitars are potent and crashing, the bass corpulent with just the right amount of boom and buzz to stand out solidly in the mix. Drums are raw and snappy, cultivating a very live feel that works nicely with the sheer impact of those rhythms. 'Mr. Hitchcock''s vocals are likewise praiseworthy, massive and grotesque and never content to simply emulate themselves, the guy is always reaching deeply into his gut for another Petrov-ian howl or guttural sustain. The higher pitched melodic guitars here are also a nice touch, showing a clear influence not only from those most foremost Swedish legends, but also bands like At the Gates, Desultory and Edge of Sanity, and they never lay them on too thickly, affixing them to the meatier undercarriage of the rhythm in a perfectly bloody marriage. In fact, the way those melancholic or gloomy melodies interact with the other components reminds me a lot of the last two Tribulation albums, only more brute, less elegant.

Sadly, for all the glory of their carnal presentation, the songs and riff choices here really did not stick to me whatsoever. The chord patterns and melodies are all sort of average, without any standouts or climactic surprises waiting around any corner of the catacombs. The album is like wandering through a low-to-mid level dungeon and fighting the same monster in 8-10 different chambers, rather than slowly building towards that climactic boss battle. There were hooks I was invisibly hearing in my head that just never manifest, and while the sound of this record does do a lot to compensate when cranked out at high volumes, I just become too bored as I realize the musical progressions here are slightly bland. To be fair, there's occasionally a little clamor or unpredictable start/stop when they setup a track, but once you're out into the proper depths of the piece, it just becomes a little too repetitious; not that they're using the same chords or phrases over and over, just that it doesn't go through a series of emotional peaks and valleys, rather just stays on a level plane. It's an issue I take with a few of their European counterparts like Revel in Flesh (who they've done a split with) or a handful of Rogga's projects. Well-produced, well-intentioned, just not terribly memorable.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10] (we resurrect from tears)

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