Friday, June 21, 2019

Outrage - Brutal Human Bastard (2013)

The simplistic sort of death metal advocated through bands like Austria's Outrage is honestly pretty brave these days, when you consider that it's not a style many fans of the broader genre really go for. Groups like Six Feet Under and Jungle Rot received mixed at best reactions from an audience divided between the nostalgic saturation of old school, atmospheric, evil death metal aesthetics and the more flashy, athletic scene honed in more for precision, technicality and clinical production standards. So efforts like Brutal Human Bastard don't cross my path very often, and while that might be a good thing in general, these guys actually attack the genre from a slightly different angle than I'd expected from the cover. I won't go on record to say I'm the biggest fan, but this sophomore outing gets a little credit for having a few refreshing ideas, hit or miss, which define it.

The bedrock of the songwriting is slower, churning, accessible death metal circa Bolt Thrower or Six Feet Under which is heavily mosh-flavored; in fact the large majority of the time the material is pit ready at the cost of creativity. That's not to say the riffs don't work, especially in the clarity of the production which allows you to feel the weight of those rhythm guitars straight in the belly, but you won't often be surprised by the notes they choose, it's more a vehicle for the front man's broad yet monotonous gutturals. Where the band really shifts it up is in how they obviously take a big influence from rock and thrash metal, and come up with these pro lead guitars sequences through most of the tunes that are quite catchy, and even more impressive in that their contrast with the bulkier, brawling undertow doesn't come at the cost of the music's overall potency. I'm not going to call it 'melodeath', although certainly there are a lot of faster paced melodic death metal groups that place a similar emphasis on the consonant lead-work, harmonies, etc, but it definitely creates a warmer vibe than what you'd expect on Realm of Chaos or War Master.

The drumming is quite good on the album, a lot of steady, tribal, warlike rhythms to keep those simpler mute patterns more bombastic than they'd be otherwise, and although I'm not always the biggest fan of 'clean' mixes for my death metal records, this one services the style well. I did not get much out of the riffs, mostly just blander death/thrash patterns I've heard before, but sometimes they bust into a cooler tremolo picked passage or something that stands out from its surroundings, and the album doesn't really experience any lulls, it's consistent stuff throughout, for good or ill. Though the growls are pretty bog standard to the genre, they do throw some snarls over the top to give it a more Deicide vibe, and he can shift the guttural up to a slightly higher pitch for variety. For me, the main highlight was always the leads and melodies and how they combined with the rhythm section to create something seasoned and dynamic. Song titles, lyrics, even the album title were just a 'meh'. I can't give Brutal Human Bastard a glaring recommendation, I was lukewarm with this stuff at best, but those looking for some intro level death metal (and I don't mean that insultingly) which is honestly the polar opposite of trendy right now might dig it.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

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