Monday, March 9, 2009

Necrophagist- Onset of Putrefaction

I'm glad that I am first hearing this album when I am 25 years old. This is the most outrageously "technical" death metal I've heard, and of course it is almost laughable in the number of changes, squeals, odd rhythms, and sheer quantity of PARTS in a given song--it is quite a stretch to include this in the same genre as Scream Bloody Gore, Horrified, Reek of Putrefaction, etc. Almost all of the early death metal classics are very simple, whereas this *very* late iteration is a one-person blender, with no possibility for toe-tapping, and likely to be derided as "masturbatory" by everyone who is not an aspiring youtube guitar hero himself. 

But let me pose the question otherwise: let's not come down on the "technicality" issue just yet; rather, is this record enjoyable to listen to? does it grow on you? It's best not to approach music with genre-blinders on ("Oh, it's too 'technical' for me.") 

First off, this is ridiculous fun--if Cannibal Corpse was too repetitive for any but the most attention-starved 14 year old, this is all the enjoyable shock and kitsch of Cannibal Corpse, dressed up as real music--and what music! Every riff is embellished, every stop/start part operates in stereo, nothing is played the same twice. It's impossible to follow, of course, but unlike Cannibal Corpse it is never boring. 

Secondly, by taking death metal to this "extreme," somehow the music has lost all the raw aggression, heaviness, intensity, et al, of extreme metal--vocals and tempos aside, this could almost be new age ambient sounds... in a manner of speaking. For die-hard old school fans, this will be a major drawback, but it is what it is. This music's not hard. After a few listens, there is nothing "sick" or "crazy" about it.

Thirdly, it's completely addictive. I've listened to this record 4 times today already--whether one can burn out on it or not, we'll see, but it's full of neat parts and a lot of it is really standout. 

Any discourse about "needless wankery," "music for robots," "no soul," "not catchy," "too technical," "actually not that hard to play"--really fall by the wayside when you approach this album the right way. It's fun and quite addictive. Strangely this band has found a kind of popularity by playing this absurd style, and who's to say that I am not missing some authentic core, but if a band is "pandering" by writing three million cool little parts, that is the particular kind of condescension that doesn't bother me.

Score: 4/5 stars (****)
Best songs: "Mutilate the Stillborn," "Fermented Offal Discharge"

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