Even ignoring that it’s a concept album about an Austrian serial killer, no one who has had the benefit of looking at Unterweger’s cover art would be surprised to learn that Monument of Misanthropy plays brutal death metal. What is surprising, however, is the brief but reoccurring moments of reprieve that give Unterweger a distinct sound. Those moments, perhaps more than the high speed churn you might expect, give the album its character.
There’s no mistaking Unterweger for brutal. Everything you’d expect to hear from a brutal death metal record is there—low-pitched grunts, hyper fast riffs, blast beats, and a healthy dose of technicality generally. And all of those elements are executed well. Songs such as “Miami Vice – Miami Gold,” “Exceptionally Sadistic,” and “Tales from the Vienna Woods” reflect this and they’re played super tight so it’s a slamming but somewhat predictable good time. Of course, there’s nothing bad about that, particularly when the production is this good. It’s made for quality car listening, for one thing.
Fortunately, not all of Unterweger is by the book. An impressive number of bands do the frenetically paced brutal death metal thing well, Monument of Misanthropy among them. If that were all that this album offered, it’d be a fine one. But it’s clear from the ambient opening of “The Mysterious Hollywood Hat-trick” that Unterweger offers a bit more than that. The periodic dirge and leads of “Demon of Graz” and the eerie and lumbering atmosphere of “The Legacy of a Malignant Monster” evidence the dynamism that’s often missing from the band’s peers. It’s that appreciation for what a smoothly executed change in pace can do for a song that sets Unterweger apart.
After a lineup change that saw all but one person from the debut album leave, Monument of Misanthropy make a strong return with Unterweger. And despite not usually beings sold on concept albums, I thought this one was cleverly done.