Human Corpse Abuse – Xenoviscerum Review

[Cover artwork by Jose Gabriel Angeles]

Take a journey with me, my fellow grizzled riff-gluttons who’d likely rather bong all the world’s remaining Schlitz wounded soldiers in lieu of sacrificing an original Effigy of the Forgotten tour shirt, to a simpler time when our deepest concerns perhaps involved misplacing a one-hitter just before heading out to spend an evening with homies, Altered Beast and TDK metal mixtapes. It was the earliest days of the ‘90s, and life was indeed grand—everyone was doing the running man; Gameboy ruled the school; Furbies weren’t yet creepily long; Swayze & Reeves carved their way through waves and hearts; and best of all, death metal reigned supreme, built on the sturdy backs of heavyweights such as Altars of Madness, Leprosy, and Severed Survival.

Release date: October 7, 2022 Label: Caligari, Selfmadegod, Obliteration
If you were the sort of furry lil rascal who couldn’t get enough of music’s extremes, you likely gobbled down all things excreted by the earliest forms of Earache, Relapse, Nuclear Blast and Wild Rags, and as a consequence of this, you probably and perhaps even unwittingly fell into the seductive, hammer-fisted realm of grindcore. Upon gingerly padding through these hallowed halls, you experienced grinding strikes from a renowned cast of characters that included Unseen Terror, Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Repulsion and Carcass, plus sneakier drills to the temple from outfits such as Blood (1989’s Impulse to Destroy), Disharmonic Orchestra (1990’s Expositionsprophylaxe), and Nuclear Death (1990’s Bride of Insect), all of which then proceeded to open doors to crucial influencers like Siege, Heresy, Concrete Sox, and whatever else we could get our hands on from linked labels such as Bristol’s Manic Ears Records (solemn bow to the North Atlantic Noise Attack comp from 1989.)

From there, it was a mere hop, strut and skank to even more clandestine empires, which perchance landed one particularly illustrious jewel from 1991 into your lap in the form of a single 7” that introduced its now legendary “41 bands! 64 songs!” in an intensely brief 13-or-so minutes: the Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh!The Record comp from Slap-A-Ham, a label owned and operated by Spazz bassist Chris Dodge, which delivered a windfall of haymakers in its quick, dynamite-in-your-shorts assault—everything from Agathocles to Assück to G-Anx to Neanderthal, plus a cuddly version of Anal Cunt before most of us understood the full extent of Seth Putnam’s “railing gunpowder” brand of assholishness.

How this all relates to Virginia’s freshly cultivated Human Corpse Abuse is hopefully rather transparent at this point: They play a classic brand of brutal grinding death, and whether or not they would’ve been fit to stretch all that bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhhing to an even more impressive 42 bands is difficult to say (they are), but they’d definitely sit in on a very similar “If You Can’t Say Everything You Need To Say In Fifteen Minutes Or Less, Hit The Fricken Bricks” PowerPoint presentation.

“You could’ve just said Human Corpse Abuse is a grindcore band.” ~ Nicolaus Copernicus, who happens to be reading these words way up there in Heaven while Lemmy makes finger sandwiches.

Yeah, I know, Nick. It’s called context. Nice bangs, nerd.

So, Human Corpse Abuse is a grindcore band. CHECK. But despite being birthed unto our planet in 2022, Xenoviscerum dodges the more progressive / technical end of the grind spectrum that often dominates the front-page news in the modern age in favor of whiffing like ‘em olden days when death metal bands used to slip into grind like Nic Cage slips into a southern accent while playing a vampire, which is to say, pretty fucking frequently. Like, every day. Take every band from the first Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! comp and put them in a bllleeeennndddeeerrr, add a wobbly lump of Impetigo (the band AND the super fun disease), garnish with an inappropriate amount of grated buzzsaw d-beating Swedeath, and top it all off with the stylish and gibbleted sophistication of a band like Exhumed and… Well, you’ll have a lot of really disgusting cleanup to do in your kitchen.

A ballad like “Convulsing Labyrinth of Flesh” delivers everything a modern sorehead could ever need in a 2-minute beatdown: thick, bludgeoning scoot; bolts of speed that splatter like cracked fever blisters; and a full array of misshapen muppets squawking, roaring and toileting through a stack of lyrics I’m absolutely certain would make Goethe seem like a Flat Earther in comparison. Stretched to a totally absurd 2 minutes, “Convulsing Labyrinth of Flesh” is also one of the longest and most complex songs on the record, but its pieces-parts are seamlessly woven together with nary a foible, thanks largely to the talent and impressive pedigree behind the project. Hey! It’s our old pal Shelby Lermo (guitar, bass, vocals, songwriting) at the helm, a feller who last graced metal’s most illustrious glossy pages in 2019 with Vastum’s Orificial Purge and Ulthar’s Providence LP from 2020. This time he’s joined by none other than Adam Jarvis (Misery Index, Pig Destroyer, Lock Up, Scour), a righteous defender who continues to abuse the drums as if they’re to blame for canceling God Friended Me.

The rest of the record is equally as manic, crunching and warped as “Convulsing Labyrinth of Flesh,” with varying degrees of stress placed on d-beating, goregrinding or straight-up deathing at any moment’s notice, giving the full 18 minutes a completely chaotic atmosphere that’s as unhinged as an ‘80s cartoon fight-cloud blowing through a busy street. You want riffs? Have 666 of them (the filthiest dropping early on in “Tumor Eater”) in less time than it takes Opeth to adjust their studio chairs. In the mood to have a furious silverback berate you for 15 minutes for swiping the last banana? Xenoviscerum’s your huckleberry. Curious what furious grindcore sounds like when loaded to the rafters with an endless supply of Yngwie Malmsteen leads? Well, you’ll have to look elsewhere for that, but Human Corpse Abuse does manage to pepper in a few total sizzlers that sound as if they’d really smart if you managed to actually touch them.

What more could you possibly ask for in an 18-minute grinding beatdown such as this? No, playing Xenoviscerum for your boss probably won’t work in your favor for that well-deserved raise, but if you find a way to slip a hard copy of the record into their car, that furiously scribbled ode to the Mental Funeral beast on its cover will absolutely come to life and greedily feast on their veins. I HAVE SEEN IT IN ACTION, friends. And oddly enough, I’m my own boss.

Final score: If you grew into grind and powerviolence alongside episodes of Quantum Leap, or if you’re the sort of historian who butters the brain with rarities from the likes of Righteous Pigs, Hellnation and Septic Death just as whole-heartedly as you might Dead Infection, you will find plenty to love with Human Corpse Abuse. What’s particularly satisfying, though—beyond the sheer savagery of the willfully hazardous music—is the fact that Xenoviscerum achieves all this old-school vibing while still delivering the BIG, chunky production we’ve grown accustomed to in the modern age. Basically, this is something that would have equal chance of wriggling to life back in 1991 as it would in 2022, and once brought to some form of miserable life, this wicked little record will be compelled to do as much damage as inhumanly possible in its relatively brief 18 minutes… which is, of course, a thoroughly magnificent thing.

Photo by Melissa Petisa

Human Corpse Abuse – Xenoviscerum
+ Cassette version: Caligari Records
+ CD version (US & Europe): Selfmadegod Records
+ CD version (Asia): Obliteration Records
+ Digital version: Dark Descent Records

Posted by Captain

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; I got the Wordle in 1 guess; Just get evil all the time.

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