originally written by Chris McDonald
If there’s one thing many death metal fans have learned over the last decade or so, it’s that slick production values and razor-tight musicianship are never a substitute for writing interesting material with lasting appeal. Dutch collective Severe Torture attempts to deliver burly, traditional death metal songs with a sharp modern edge, but the slick nature of this disc isn’t impressive enough to compensate for the pedestrian songwriting the band employs and the lack of energy and excitement with which they deliver it.
While they bare the requisite Suffocation influence present in most modern brutal death metal acts, Severe Torture’s sound owes just as much to modern-day Cannibal Corpse, particularly in the meaty guitar tone and chunky rhythms. Tempos are typically on the speedy side, but never incomprehensibly so, with thrash beats and hefty grooves peppered in frequently among the faster segments. On the surface, everything appears to be in order for a solid modern death metal release; the production is clean and tight, the blastbeats hit hard, the guitar solos are simple but melodically satisfying, and the gruff vocals top off the instrumental side of things just fine.
Severe Torture packs quite a punch sound wise, but the riffs on display are too stock and predictable to elevate the music to anything higher than the sum of its parts. There’s no real sense of atmosphere or tangible aggression here, just a collection of straightforward death metal guitar figures and drumbeats that, while certainly not offensive or terrible, makes no attempt to illicit any real response from the listener. The mystical sounding clean guitar that surfaces in “Inferior Divinity” and the instrumental “To Relieve The Mortal Flesh Of Pain” effectively stir up the pot a bit, but these interjections don’t show up ’til past the album’s halfway point, and by then it feels like too little payoff for the rest of Slaughtered’s monotonous build-up. Most of the guitar work is comprised of simplistic, stereotypical “extreme” chord progressions that pretend to sound a lot more brutal and intense than they actually are, and the lack of any real surprising elements or variation from song to song means these riffs are the only legs Severe Torture has to stand on. It isn’t enough.
Slaughtered is essentially a case of a band dutifully fulfilling all the expectations that come with recording and releasing a modern death metal album while forgetting to inject any noticeable energy, passion, or flavor into the actual music. Severe Torture’s sound is too clean and polished to feel primitive or ugly, yet also too straightforward and simplistic to impress in regards to musicianship or complexity. As a result, these songs lack identity and fail to make any sort of lasting impression. Slaughtered is still a decent listen while its happening, but anyone looking for something more than another standard meat-and-potatoes death metal record will want to look elsewhere.