[Album artwork: Karl Dahmer / Dahmer Art]
Here’s the great news: Death metal is still in the midst of an absurd upswing in popularity, resulting in an endless avalanche of brutal, technical, melodic, blackened, progressive, doomed, oldschool, salted caramel brownie death metal recordings custom built to prompt your parents, colleagues, or significant others to wonder if perhaps you spend your lunch breaks huffing duster in a Walmart parking lot. Demo cassettes are hotter than a Carolina reaper enema, and they appear to be doing precisely what the Good Lord originally intended them to do, which is get bands like Sangriabogglebub deals with big-time labels so they can finally grab that Bugatti Veyron with 40” rims they’ve had their eye on. Plus, it’s not at all rare to see the latest star of some random Nickelodeon show wearing a hoodie with a completely indecipherable goregrind logo repeated thirty times up and down each sleeve. What a time to be alive!
The not-so-great news: Death metal is still in the midst of an absurd upswing in popularity, resulting in a surplus of death metal albums that are largely equivalent, save for varying cassette color options. And goddamnit, that fresh Demigod Slumber of Sullen Eyes long sleeve you finally tracked down suddenly seems a little less magnificent because Kylie Jenner wore the same one to the Kid’s Choice awards last night. What a time to be alive…
Whatever. Death metal is great, and it will never die, need saving, or cough and collapse just short of the finish line on the fumes of the vapors of the coattails of Bolt Thrower or Entombed because it is a gift from the heavens, and the first person who publicly admits to being sick of any of its trends gets a thousand wangs Sharpied on their face the minute they pass out after drinking too many Bud Light Lime Seltzers. What a time to be alive?
Okay, maybe we’re a teensy bit weary of the Warmaster and HM2-to-the-one-hundredth-power clones. And outer space is currently overrun by so many progressive death metal bands fetishizing science fiction that the Cylons won’t even have room to FTL-jump close enough for an invasion. Thanks a lot, death metal—there goes our chances of being overrun by super hot skinjobs with a fondness for whispering deliciously doomy secrets into our ears.
BECERUS TO THE RESCUE!
Well, sort of, if you count getting clobbered to a pulp by enraged cavemanic death metal a “rescue.”
Just listen to that sweet, sweet uproar; it’s like a serenade to the most exquisite troglodyte a pair of pinched, mindless eyes could ever hope to witness. Just look how her knuckles barely scrape the dirt as she sashays away from the fire to scold the lesser hominids she captured and tethered to a stake earlier that day. Will they be dinner for two? For ten? Is that what this song is about? Heaven knows, because the band is quite straightforward (in an extremely Earache circa 1990 kind of way) about their intentions to grunt mostly gibberish.
What’s particularly wonderful and unique about Becerus—apart from the fact that they’re scholarly enough to name songs “Primeval Ignorantia” and “Hymn to Ungainly Corpulence”—is the fact that they manage to capture the sheer intensity of that early 90’s NY / FL death metal scene while also being shrewd enough to spice the femoral boil with a (perhaps) surprising amount of cerebral technicality. And when “technical” is referenced here, it’s important to understand that it’s sans “tech” and more along the lines of the aforementioned Cannibal Corpse, not a band such as, say, Decrepit Birth. This hint of sophistication evolves / gilds the song structure of the longer cuts (those being the few that manage to push beyond three minutes), and it’s also engraved up and down the record’s many brief solos, some of which recall Rick Rozz’s spastic fury, while others bring to mind Chuck Schuldiner’s knack for cheery embellishment.
That’s pretty much it. Thankfully, it ain’t always about rocket science, unless you consider strapping Gronk to a banana tree and launching him directly into the eye of a raiding Majungasaurus rocket science. The production here is unexpectedly clean, but it doesn’t really take away from the brutality, despite the fact that the drumming is so uncannily tidy that you might wonder if this Paul Bicipitus fellow isn’t actually prehistoric man’s first automaton. The remainder of the Becerus formula, however—Giorgio Trombino on guitars / bass and Mario Musumeci on vocals—is as greasy as a roasted megapode turkey leg from a Pleistocene era Renaissance Faire, and the entire formula works so well together that hitting play again the moment Homo Homini Brutus ends will strike you as an extremely fucking terrific idea.
What a time to be alive…and killed over and over and over again.