I am harder to contact than I think I am. I mean I am nearly always in contact with myself, so it rarely occurs to me that anyone else might have a hard time getting in touch. But the rest of this site uses some form of instant communication I am not a part of, mainly because “Jesus another fucking thing? What am I, 13?” So I generally get asked to review things via old Facebook pages rather than having to stand up and fight for the privilege.
The great thing about that is I have no expectations. I am just reviewing whatever comes my way–may be good, may be bad. We’ll see. Hey, it’s all metal, and that means that the worst of it is still better than whatever everyone else is listening to. (By “everyone” I mean all the non-metal people. Peasants.)
So what did I get this time? Well, see those giant words at the top the review page? That. Extremity. A full length. “How is it” you ask because it works for my little narrative?
It. DE. STROYS!
CRUNCH. MOISTURE. ROAR.
Nope. Not fucking kidding. This is traditional death metal, unpretentious and tight as my grip on the last shreds of sanity. This is community based radio death metal from 1992. This is makeshift stage death metal from a million basement gigs. This is “opened up for Discharge” death metal. It hooks and it grinds. It throws bolts and it shuns benedics. It chugs and it riffs and it is pure.
The chesty vocals delivered by Lermo and Martinez-Hoadley represent the almost hardcore aspects of early death metal vox, and it brings an intensity you may not realize is missing from some modern death metal voices. It is less sinister and more furious, less contrived and more expressive.
The songs themselves are uncomplicated, but not in the sense that the band can’t be complex so much as in the sense that the players refuse to get in each other’s way. Lermo and Martinez-Hoadley share guitaring duties, and they obviously love their craft as well as their influences. They play off each other perfectly, exactly as you would expect. Lermo’s bass playing is understated, but certainly up to task. And Dekker’s drumming has the perfect combination of shut-up-and-play and gee-look-at-me you want a death metal drummer to have.
The songs themselves are massive, debauched and dirty in the cleanest way possible. They just FEEL death metal as hell. Fast, mid, slow–it all depends on where the band wants you to be. In fact, opening crusher “Coffin Birth/One Million Witches” displays everything you are about to consume in the space of the opening minute and a half. Grand, speedy, massive riffs, then slow churning grind, and finally pummeling rev-up to the song proper.
“Where Evil Dwells” channels a Bolt Throwing riff and twists it around the time signature to give it a personal touch. “For Want of a Nail” is a Carcassian battleship circa Necroticism era, and it does it right. You cannot NOT bang your head to it. The jerky opening to “Like Father Like Son” gets and holds your face for an incoming punch to land square on your nose, and lets you sit there dwelling in the sting with a massively satisfying waltz-in-hell midsection. “Misbegotten” closes things out with two slices of cheese wrapped around massive, pure death joy.
The whole album is clear as a bell; production is immaculate. But what the album really has is the intangible. The raw fun and fury the very best death metal delivers like nothing else in recorded music. It’s a little too ephemeral to try to break it down, so the only real way to understand Coffin Birth is to hear it in the moment. Not just greater than the sum of its impressive parts, this album is one of THOSE records I feel like I will be coming back to over and over.
So should you own this? I dunno. Are you at a metal site reading a metal review? If the answers to those questions are “no” then how did you know I asked them? A-ha. Got you! If the answer is “yes” then my answer is also YES. Death metal can fill a lot of voids other styles leave vacant, but it belongs first and foremost in the “make an angry face and slam your head around” void. And Extremity is what stares back, grinning and seething and thrashing, when you stare into that particular void.