Metal nichers have this curious/insufferable ability to keep collecting records from their favorite metal fetish, even if most of them tend to get lost in the anonymity of large numbers. Something about the joy we got the first time we heard this stuff turns us into the musical equivalent of stamp-collecting geeks. I am unabashedly one of those metal philatelists when it comes to death metal and grindcore.
With that in mind, the upfront disclaimer: This is a throwback, sloppy, under-produced death metal album, so I am going to be all for it. To help the reader as much as I can, I will try reduce my overt enthusiasm for anything old, ugly, and moist for a moment.
“Festering Castration” tells you everything you need to know right off the bat – hell, even before the bat. Just the name is enough to prepare you for what you will hear. Throaty-raspy vocals, thick damp guitars and thudding, time-on-target drums. Some blasts, some breakdowns, a lot of grooves and all of it seemingly on the edge of chaos.
The riffs and occasional hooks that fill up the mostly-under-three-minute songs that follow are satisfying, and often thrill-inducing. “Found in Feces” drags you from blast to groove over and over, with a venomous main riff acting as conductor. Closer “Mace Face” starts blasty and brief, breaking down to set you up for the climactic pounding.
It will come as no surprise that there is nothing on this album that even suggests innovation or plasticity. Once again, this is all about the feel of the band, the texture of their sound and the love of the elder ways. At this point, this may not be a deal breaker, but it is also becoming a negating factor to a lot of good will bands like this have built up over the last decade or so. It is getting more and more difficult to give these records two thumbs up, so to speak.
And yet, for all that the genre is saturated, the quality of the band and their fastidious un-fastidiousness push this into the positive for this reviewer. No matter how many stamps I collect, it would seem, the fact that each one has a mark of the artist keeps me intrigued. Great metal remains above the need for re-invention, somehow. It is a strength and a weakness, but it sure keeps me coming back.