What happens when members of a band which is essentially a giant “fuck you” to musical boundaries of any type decide to make music with boundaries? This is the central question Seputus forces a reviewer to answer when considering Man Does Not Give, a black/death/crust record created by members of the avent avant uvaant Pyrrhon who, I think we can all agree, does not observe metal niches in any sense of the phrase apart from “metal.”
The answer to the above question is no easier to give than the album is to wrap your head around. Seputus is slightly more accessible than Pyrrhon, but mostly because it is actually giving the listener those starting points we anticipate from our music. There is absolutely killer death metal riffing, absolutely freezing black metal phrasing, and absolutely filthy crust texture. There is death roaring, black screaming and crust blarghing. There are chugs, blasts and wipeouts from the drums. It’s all in there.
And then it all moves through strange angles and forbidden planes into other places. Seputus is, to my ears, about atmosphere. The band approaches the album as 80s proto-death and 90s black metal. Everything is way down in the mix; there are echoes everywhere, and hissings and squealings abound. This creates a chilling environment, almost as though you are privy to a human slaughterhouse, but only as a spectator. The cold cacaphonic emptiness of the sound works at your nerves, so that by the end you feel driven almost into depression.
The riffing dances across the lines of black and death metal carelessly; technically superlative, but hard to get at given the mix. This feels designed, and makes finding the structure an interesting experience. If I understand the band’s history correctly, much of the instrumentation was recorded and assembled by Steve Schwegler – at least, the drums and guitars are credited to him, with bass player Erik Malave having more recently joined the band.
However they were spawned, they are a marvelous menagerie of blackened, deathened, crusteneded whatever they are, and to have Doug Moore’s absolutely insane vocalizing laid into them presents the listener with a sometimes overwhelming wall of sound. Moore’s vocalizing runs the predicted gamut of roars and screeches, but also finds some desperate moments that don’t fit any classification other than “extreme,” such as toward the end of the crawling “Desperate Reach.”
Normally I don’t spend much time or effort on metal – or rock in general – lyrics. When reviewing a lot of times I can’t access lyrics anyway. As I was lucky enough to get a lyric sheet with this promo, I have to remark that the depth of philosophical experience here is worth considering when picking this record. “Top of the Food Chain,” for example, speaks volumes as we observe the daily dismantling of the American intellect. The machine is indeed working as intended, if I read it correctly. Or even if I don’t.
The production, as mentioned above, is undergrounded as hell. This is a pit of vipers, a tomb of restless corpses, an abattoir of the lost that grinds in the dead of night. It makes one work for the listen, and sometimes it becomes too much, perhaps. So much echo and noise can wear the listener out. But again, this is part of the atmosphere, and part of the band’s modus operandi. You have to want to be here, and if you want to be here you will find a way to process the sound.
So forewarned is forearmed: Seputus is a tough listen, and not for everyone. But death, black and PV fans ready to put in the effort are going to be given a headbanging experience unlike many others. At the very least, any headbanger will gain perspective when moving through this record. It will poke you and prod you and challenge you and mock you. For myself, in the end it rewarded me, too.