Originally written by Jeremy Garner
There have been a few important changes in the Severe Torture camp. First, these Dutch heavyweights have moved from Hammerheart Records to the ranks of monolithic death metal label Earache; the metal world isn’t going to change, but the swap will serve as an excellent opportunity for the band. Secondly, The addition of new guitarist Marvin Vriesde (Blo.torch, Dew Scented), brings a very refreshing level of melody and the addition of guitar solos. that sees Severe Torture undergoing an impressive evolution from just another brutally sick death grind band into an attempt at being a full-fledged death metal powerhouse that blends both brutality and tradition.
The production courtesy of Hans Pieters at Excess Studios is an interesting variation on the traditional death metal and brutal death metal tonality as its suiting for a band trying to carve out their own name in the over satured death metal world, but I do have problems that the production comes off as overly stifling and disappointingly thin rather than full and chunky. Severe Torture’s sound however, is as mature as it is ominous; Denis’s vocals swap from deep and forceful growls something like a more muddled version of Jason Mendonca of Akercocke to vomit vocals ala Death or Pestilence. Seth skillfully handles the kit with tight precision and velocity all while Patrick (Bass), Thijs (guitar), and Marvin (guitar) lay down the foundation of their old school obsessed death metal.
Though I like a band that doesn’t feel compelled to blast constantly, the overall speed of Fall of the Despised is dramatically slower than the majority of their peers, causing many of the songs to loose what would have otherwise been a punchy attack. “Consuming the Dying” sets an ambitious standard that sadly craps out by the middle of the album into rather well executed, but ultimately bland and rather predictable formulaic compositions. “Sawn off” and “Decree of Darkness” employ the use of some stagnantly familiar Suffocation style guitar tricks while “Endless Strain of Cadavers” and “Enshrined in Madness” both seem to be nothing more than a second rate homage to Morbid Angel. “Impulsive Mutilation” is horribly redundant as it focuses on variations of one aggravatingly boring riff for the majority of the song and the only interesting points echo the Floridian sound they’ve added to their repertoire. By the time “Dead from the Waist Down” and “Unconditional Annihilation” roll around, besides the occasional interesting riff or solo, a feeling of déjà vu is left that just maybe all this has already been done before. There’s plenty of variation of style found within the confines of each song, but as a whole the album runs off into one cliché blur of already been done. Granted there are impressive tracks like the aforementioned “Consuming the Dying” and album closer “End of Christ” which blends epic grandeur and intense brutality it’s a case of too little too late. Two standout tracks are not enough to save an entire album.
Fall of the Despised is bound to cause some extreme polarization in the death metal community; Severe Torture is not a bad band by any means, just somewhat directionless and without any impressive qualities that would set them apart. For the life of me I can’t get through this album without becoming bored out of my fucking mind. The songs are trite, by the numbers death metal that is nothing but a sadly nostalgic tribute to the bands that paved the way for their sound. Though it is all played impeccably, Fall of the Despised is hollow and deprived of any real inspiration or depth.