Originally written by Michael Roberts.
While some bands in death metal nowadays proudly take their influences from the genre’s golden period of the early nineties, bands such as Tokyo’s Coffins prefer to go even further back. These dudes opt for death metal in its most primitive form; stripped of all technicality, merged with sludge, doom and a dash of stoner rock for good measure. Is it any good? Well, there is some fun to be had with Buried Death, but your enjoyment of Coffins will depend greatly on your tolerance for the extremely basic nature of their music.
Let’s start with the positives and firstly, Buried Death is satisfyingly heavy. The production is raw and nasty, with numerous layers of thick guitar noise. The playing, too, is very basic and often at languid tempos. Slower numbers like “Mortification to Ruin” have a definite doom/drone feel to them. Then there are songs like “Purgatorial Madness” and the title track that up the tempo considerably, in an old school thrash/punk vein. Unfortunately, tempo variations are pretty much all there is to mention in terms of musical variety on this album, and that becomes its biggest problem as songs drag out to five, six and seven minutes long.
There are strong moments sprinkled across most of the songs on Buried Death and there are a few standouts. The Kyuss-styled break at the three-minute mark of “Under the Stench” works well, as does the simple but catchy rock groove of “Altars in Gore”. “Deadly Sinners” is the best of the faster numbers in which the death growls are alternated with shrieks that bring to mind Mitch Harris’s work in Napalm Death, and album closer “The Frozen Styx” effectively creates atmosphere with its darker, nastier doom feel. In the end though, these highlights are few, and the rest of this album is too bogged down in monotony and sloppy arrangements to raise Coffins any higher than an average listen.
Buried Death is sporadically entertaining but there simply isn’t enough going on musically or songwriting-wise to make it work consistently. Coffins make for a nice change from all the tech death currently out there and their death/sludge style certainly has merit, but further improvements in their song craft are needed if these guys are to stand out. Fans of Hellhammer, Autopsy or Six Feet Under may want to give this a go.