Many moons ago, a friend of mine convinced me to give a strange blend of juice from an eclectic little grocery store in a weird little neighborhood near my work a month-long try for supposed health benefits. I was game, mostly because who the hell am I to turn down a fairly painless method for pointing the old ship’s internal practicalities back toward an advantageous direction.
I no longer remember the drink’s key ingredients, but I clearly recall a certain strangeness associated with the flavor during initial encounters. Not necessarily unpleasant, that taste, just…unique – uncommon and habit-forming enough that I found myself craving its acidity during a week-long trip away from the confines of said grocery store. Some sort of crack Kombucha? Krackbucha? Sure, why not. One thing for sure: it worked. When I think about that concoction today, I can’t help but feel that it doctored me in its own unique way, and I miss it.
The self-titled debut from the Bay Area’s Succumb is a strange brew with dubious health benefits, and I haven’t been able to put it down for the better part of the last month. Succumbcha? Sure, why not.
Death metal? You bet. Punk? Postitively. Noise rock? For certain. Grind? Probably. Sludge? Collecting way down at the bottom of the barrel. Blender all them ingredients into a big Unicorn Bludgeonberry Whip and you’ve basically got Succumb.
Indeed, fans of extreme metal aren’t exactly strangers to sweeping mixtures such as this, particularly those familiar with the Bay Area’s penchant for research and development, but Succumb delivers the goods with one more peculiar element that could make or break the overall enthusiasm from curious bystanders: Cheri Musrasrik’s unique vocal approach. She has a hardcore punk background (ex-Pig DNA), and she howls in a manner that suggests “crusty anarcho warehouse band,” but it’s strained through metal’s often cavernous production affection and some of the heaviest, ghastliest, grimiest, weirdest riffs you’ll hear this side of Mt. Whatthefuckmore. To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t know what to think of them at first blush. Second blush, either. However, I can’t imagine these songs delivered in any other way after living with this record for the better part of the last month now. Succumb’s brand of bludgeoning metal is unique in and of itself, but Musrasrik’s technique, when mingled with bassist Kirk Spaseff’s occasional booming death yowls, gives these 34 minutes a one-of-a-kind characteristic that lands the band in a pretty novel niche of death metal’s gruesome little corner of the world.
And about that music…
Pinheads like me call a band like Succumb “forward thinking” death metal because calling it “technical” or “progressive” doesn’t really do any favors to fans of those particular off-shoots. The record is technical and progressive, but mostly in the way that it manages to cram all sorts of splinter genres through a giant meat grinder, thus generating a conclusion that sounds a bit like a sewer death metal version of Unsane that isn’t afraid to thrash in a very floor-pummeling kind of way.
“Survival” might be the most fitting haunch to toss to the table, because it is wild and it is bloody and it is savage and even a little deathdoomy toward the midsection – that burly bass run around 3:45 opens up to a positively crushing series of riffs that bludgeon like Forced Entry’s “Bludgeon” on 12 weeks of steroids – but let’s highlight a later cut in its stead. “Coal Dark Earth” plays to all of Succumb’s strengths perfectly: it rips from the gate like Eaten Back to Life, settles into ferocious trample that’s urged by the storming hands of drummer Harry Cantwell (dude plays like his pooch is being held hostage), and it finishes things off with a tornado of rapidly fluttering bass, a wild Rick Rozz lead, and a closing 30 seconds of violence that would flatten Godzilla straddling a Sandcrawler.
Oh, still here? I’ll give you a minute to pick your head up off the floor.
Just what in the triple-double-flip got into these guys is beyond me, but they apparently want to stuff us all into a hungry car crusher, and that’s wonderful. I can understand if fusspots choose to squawk about the vocals at the outset, mostly because they explore unfamiliar territory, but the uniqueness they add to the overall brew is what helps a record like this stand out when zillions of other releases battle for attention. Hell, buy the damn thing just to hear the riffs this Derek Webster nutcase comes up with – you won’t be disappointed.
If you like it loud, savage and peculiar, Succumb is a necessary addition to your miserable life. Good from the very first sip until the absolute last drop.