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Gutwrench - The Art of Mutilation

The Art of Mutilation
by Chris Hawkins at 15 October 2018, 5:21 PM

The GUTWRENCH being presently reviewed hails from the northern part of the Netherlands (there are at least four other bands with the same name).  The band was founded in 1992, and along with ASPHYX, GOREFEST, and PESTILENCE among others, are considered the first wave of Death Metal.  Despite location, though, this band was much more into American Death Metal, sounding more like a blend of AUTOPSY and INCANTATION.  “The Art of Mutilation” offers a thorough look into a short-lived but extremely influential band in their scene.

From the first, with “Meatlocker,” it becomes easy to understand that there is quite a lot of diversity within the band.  The breakdown toward the latter part of the song bears resemblance to classic AUTOPSY.  The band then returns to the original riff; however, this time, there is a rapid-fire old school blast beat accompanying it.  “Necrosis,” the following track, begins with a slow groove one would normally attribute to classic NOLA bands.  Classic riffs from ACID BATH to SOILENT GREEN offer comparison to this slow beginning.  If one thing is certain, it is that Death Metal in the early 1990's encompassed more variety and was less formulaic than present-day revivalist bands would imply.  It isn’t long, though, before there is a marked return to blasting, fueling light-speed tremolo picking.

The fourth track, “Wither Without You,” features one of the most strikingly original breakdowns where clean tools are mixed with distorted guitars to create a Doom-like forlorn atmosphere.  “Asphyxia,” the sixth track, begins with a medium-paced groove similar to those favored by BOLT THROWER, and then goes into a slower Doom section before returning to the beginning pace for a deftly-played guitar solo.  The eighth track, “Pest Controller,” is one of the more diverse songs.  Formed by a melodic riff, the band successfully mixes things up with syncopated riffs and parts that are similar to CARCASS.  This track is, by far, certainly the best.  It is very much ahead of its time, a classic that incorporates a broader sound, even containing keyboards in the latter part.  Like the previously discussed track, the tenth track, “Scarred and Hollow,” shows a band incorporating more mature and experimental sounds with melodic harmonies and even parts, again with spots of keyboards, that resemble classic Black Metal.

The instrumental side of this album is compelling.  For a band forming in ‘92, it seems they are already keen on what makes for good Death Metal:  variety.  Considering this is combines from their demos, the fidelity is satisfactory.  The guitar has a monstrously scooped sound that, with the application of more mid frequency and less treble, could have been more mammoth-sized.  The riffs truly work with the two guitars.  While it would have been nice to hear a bass with more presence, considering the period in which it was recorded is forgiving.  The same can be said of the drums, though the double bass is audible.  With the budget the band likely had, the material holds up for it stands the test of time.

The early days of Death Metal saw fertile ground produce myriad different projects across the genre.  The canvas was blank for three to five musicians yearning to play faster, sinister, crushing Metal.  Just as Thrash before it, Death Metal became a refuge for youthful extremism.  MORBID ANGEL’S “Blessed Are the Sick” is not the first example of bands in the genre to include slower riffs into their arsenal.  It is a pleasure to come across previously scarce material.  “The Art of Mutilation” shows a band simply skilled at writing riffs and matching them in ways to help the songs’ natural flow.  Despite having never heard this band, they have definitely garnered a fan.  At their best, they are ahead of the 1993 curve, and if allowed to further cultivate and refine their sound, would have been a bigger band, if not a seminal one for the genre.

Songwriting:  7
Originality:  7
Memorability:  7
Production:  5

3 Star Rating

1. Meatlocker
2. Necrosis
3. Crawl
4. Wither Without You
5. The Art of Mutilation
6. Asphyxia
7. Beneath Skin
8. Pest Controller
9. The God Complex
10. Scarred and Hollow
11. The Seedling
12. Cain
Niels Kloosterman – Drums
Robert van der Mijle– Vocals, Guitar
Olaf - Bass
Edwin Fölsche – Guitars
Record Label: Vic Records


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Edited 07 June 2023

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