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Devourment - Obscene Majesty Award winner

Obscene Majesty
by Martin Knap at 03 October 2019, 7:22 PM

DEVOURMENT are the kings of slamming Brutal Death Metal, their song “Babykiller”  has been called "the first slam hit“ by music critics. The formula of their music has always been pretty straight forward: the songs shift between brutal blasting and spastic riffing and infectious mid-tempo grooves accompanied by super heavy “slam” riffs.  Songs like “Babykiller” sound incredibly brutal, but the grooviness and the sheer kinetic energy of the riffs is also very catchy.

DEVOURMENT brand of Death Metal feels orgiastic and trance inducing, especially those who have witnessed this live know. “Obscene Majesty”  is the band’s fifth full-length release (if we count both versions of “Butcher the Weak”  as one) and it was released five years after “Concieved in Sewage” by Relapse Records. This release marks a bit of a change in their style, at least compared to earlier releases such as “Butcher the Weak” or “Unleash the Carnivore”. The music on this record is a little bit less straightforward; it still has some of the catchiness and energy of their classic albums, but the songs are more complex, there is a level of intricacy in the songwriting that sets this album apart from the average Brutal Death Metal release.

In other words, there is much more going on in the songs than we’re used to from DEVOURMENT: the complexity of the song could be compared to modern Technical Death Metal stuff; I think WORMED would be a good comparison, since both bands are so brutal and relentless. Don’t get me wrong, there is no techy “bleep bleep”  kind of riffing, flashy soloing or anything like that. The music is percussive and rhythmic as ever, all the added layer of intricacy is in shifting of rhythmic patterns since everything here – the guttural vocals and abrasive sounding guitars – functions largely as a carrier of kinetic energy (as opposed to melody, of which there is hardly any).

DEVOURMENT were always great songwriters: even with their more straight-forward numbers the songs always move to a climactic ending. The new songs have an ebb and flow kind of development, but there is always a sense build up towards some kind of climax – or rather that things are spiraling into madness. “Xenoglossia”, for example, ends with slams, followed by the most insane onslaught of grinding and blast-beats, followed by a almost relaxed outro. “Modum Sul Morte”  has an ending with super groovy mid-tempo slams  followed by even slower ones and finishes with an insanely fast onslaught. For those who crave the bliss of rocking out to simplistic brutal slams will find enough of such moments on this record, in “Cognitive Sedation Butchery,” the band goes at it with a particularly high level of enthusiasm.

To me the title “Obscene Majesty” captures the essence of the music: the classic distinction between the beautiful and sublime is manifested to an extreme degree here. In terms of beauty we’re in red numbers, so to speak, but all the grinding, gurgling, machine-gun blasting and grooves results in such a powerful onslaught on the senses that it leaves one in awe. Its a sublimity completely devoid of beauty – and the phrase “obscene majesty” captures that feeling perfectly. I’m really intrigued by this release and even though the music is so dense and hard to penetrate (it’s definitely not for a “normie”  listener), there is something about it that draws me to this music and I can’t get enough of it. It's Slam elevated to an art form. Oh, and the band is also making amends for their “misogynist” past by writing lyrics about a women torturing her rapist. Way to go.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. A Virulent Strain of Retaliation
2. Cognitive Sedation Butchery
3. Narcissistic Paraphilia
4. Arterial Spray Patterns
5. Profane Contagion
6. Dysmorphic Autophagia
7. Sculpted in Tyranny
8. Xenoglossia
9. Modum Sui Morte
10. Truculent Antipathy
Brad Fincher - Drums
Ruben Rosas - Vocals (lead)
Chris Andrews - Guitars, Vocals (additional)
Dave Spencer – Bass
Record Label: Relapse Records


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