Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Album Review: Severe Mutilation - "Spawn of Hatred"

It's always exciting to listen to music from a country you haven't heard any music from before. I've heard music from all across the globe, and I've received promos from bands hailing from many different countries as well. My first foray into Puerto Rican metal comes to me in the form of Spawn of Hatred by death metallers Severe Mutilation.

Severe Mutilation formed in 2008 under the name Bloodspill, and originally went for more of a grindcore and hardcore outfit than a death metal one. Even as the band evolved over the years form one genre to another, they managed to stay an independent act that has amassed a solid following of fans.

I've said a gazillion times on this blog that good death metal is good death metal. And this? It's some good death metal. Severe Mutilation call back to the good old days of death metal, where bands like Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Suffocation reigned supreme atop their thrones made of skulls. That being said, these guys manage to bring in a pretty modern edge to the old school death metal sound.

Spawn of Hatred is ruled by riffs. Guitarists Junito and Chunk are chocked full of monstrous riffs. These guys fly by with vicious and precise tremolo picked riffs and gallops and can just as easily bring down some motherfucking slams that would make even Terrance Hobbs jealous. This album is meant for people who want to headbang and who want to headbang hard. While for me, the guitars are the highlight of Spawn of Hatred, the rest of the band dishes out some solid musical punishment, too. Drummer Felix keeps up with Junito and Chunk's top-notch riffage, alternating between blistering blastbeats and pounding double bass grooves. Vocalist Wesley busts out some very Frank Mullen inspired vocal work, but helps usher in the modern sound with some pig squeals here and there. For those of you who don't know, I'm not a fan of pig squeals but Wesley drops them with tasteful frequency, so it doesn't bother me too much.

The production on Spawn of Hatred is what helps push this album into the "modern death metal" territory. Everything sounds nice and clean here, with every member shining through in the mix (save the bassist, but more on that later). I'm not sure how I feel about clean production on death metal like this, because there's a charm to the raw recordings of old school bands that I can't seem to resist. While I definitely don't dislike clean production, I'm not sure it was the right choice for this type of music.

The shortcomings of Spawn of Hatred don't seem to come up until the second, third and further listenings. The first is that the bass seems to slowly disappear as the album goes on. The second track, "Practice What You Preach" has some sweet fat bass tones punching through the mix, but once you reach the end of the album (around "Fuck the World Bring on the Hate), the bass seems like it has been severely cut down in the mix. Maybe I'm just crazy, but it's been what I've been hearing consistently since my third or so listen. The second shortcoming of Spawn of Hatred is that I don't find it engaging past the end of the album. When it's on, I'm headbanging furiously and stomping around my house like an elephant, but as soon as it ends, I wouldn't be able to recall any moments on the album that really stood out or be able to hum any riff that popped up with even a shred of accuracy.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Practice What You Preach, Spawn of Hatred, I Kill for God

On a Playlist With: Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, (old) Morbid Angel

Overall Score: 3/5

I stand by what I said at the beginning of this review. Spawn of Hatred is good death metal. I definitely enjoy listening to this album now, but I feel like in a month or so I won't even be spinning it once in a week. It's a shame, because while Severe Mutilation definitely show some promise, they've definitely got to step their songwriting game up so they can pump out some catchier and more memorable tunes. Once they've mastered that, I think Severe Mutilation will be a modern death metal force to be reckoned with.

Spawn of Hatred comes out May 5th independently through Severe Mutilation. You can check the band out on Facebook, MySpace, and ReverbNation.

That's all for now, folks!

-Grave Dave

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