Originally written by Justin Bean.
The dudes in Exmortem are pissed at something and the blood-boiling fury shines through without hesitation on their fourth full-length release, Nihilistic Contentment. The Danish death metal quartet blaze through nine tracks of straightforward ultra-aggressive heaviness that, for the most part, was welcomed by this reviewer’s ears.
Of the many characteristics that qualify a band as being ‘death metal’ and thus a scourge of the mainstream, I would have to speculate that, second to the pervasive screaming, the often relentless speed is a main turn off point for people outside of the realm of extreme music (about which I have no complaints, mind you). Exmortem has taken the racecar-speed tempo and made it a general rule for most songs on Nihilistic Contentment. I would estimate that the majority of the drumming is spent on blast beats and the guitars match pace with the swift velocity. With the drums committed to this furious clip, it falls in the lap of the guitar(s) to provide the musical variation a successful death metal release demands, which presents one of the primary set backs on this album. The guitar work here isn’t the most diverse or intricate attack I’ve heard but it’s done tight and consistently, always deserving of a nod. However, a symptom of this lack of variation is that by the sixth or seventh track (or earlier) the music begins to take on a repetitive tone, but Nihilistic Contentment certainly isn’t the first death metal release to suffer from this.
The recording isn’t flawless, nor is it terrible. A touch of discordant fuzz hangs over the guitars but its effect is relatively minor. Overall a higher level of clarity on the production would have gone a long way, especially on the guitars. The drumming provided by Michael is more audible in the recording and, like I said above, fuels much of the driving force behind the high-pace of this album. Simon Peterson’s rabid, growled vocals keep the aggression on full-throttle with a sound that reminds me of a less forced and more expertly delivered version of ex-Cryptopsy vocalist Mike DiSalvo. Coupled with the technically proficient axe work, which here and there offers some interesting fret flaying, Exmortem’s aforementioned fury shines through on this death metal diatribe.
What it comes down to on this release is whether or not you’re a fan of this particular style of death metal, i.e. the blisteringly fast kind you listen to for ten or twelve minutes when you’re pissed off or want to demonstrate for your non-metal friends how your music, if squared off in a bare-knuckled boxing match, could definitely kick the crap out of their music. You won’t be able to skip through a track to play them a jaw-dropping solo or any other instrumentation you know would astound any music enthusiast (which you can do with, say, Necrophagist), but if you revel in the aggression and speed of bands like Deeds of Flesh or Behemoth, but can handle a less polished delivery, this may be right up your alley.