Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Blasphemer - On the Inexistence of God

The brutal death metal I like is typically pretty straightforward- I don't need anything elaborate from it and excessive technicality is a turn-off. Blasphemer is one of the rare exceptions to that rule where I feel their ultra-technical, unbelievably intense style is an overall asset to their sound. Relatively unknown outside of their own regional scene before their debut full-length on Comatose, Blasphemer is perhaps one of the best technical brutal death bands to come onto the scene recently. Succeeding where many of their countrymates such as Septycal Gorge fail in my opinion, Blasphemer's style is chaotic and ripping yet perfectly coherent- at no point does the technicality and fulminating rage of this album feel pointless or forced. Just the opposite: 'On the Inexistence of God' is exactly the album it should be from beginning to end.

Blasphemer definitely draws from the Malignancy school of death metal- the opening moments of 'Kuro - Laughing Death' state it rather clearly- but it's tempered by a more streamlined sense of songwriting. Malignancy's music is rough, perpetually stopping, rearranging, and accelerating again, where Blasphemer takes a steadier approach to their compositions while still maintaining the high level of technical skill you'd expect. Sculpted from equal parts European and New York technical death metal, Blasphemer's music is definitely abrupt and grinding, but lacks a lot of tenseness of other bands in those scenes, which I find refreshing- Blasphemer's music, chaotic as it tends to be, isn't quite as stress-inducing as some of their compatriots in the scene. This is even more surprising given Blasphemer's staunch refusal to engage in any sort of melodic riffing; no, these tracks are just as oppressive and domineering as they seem, apart from the small diversions here and there into some (admittedly excellently played and composed) acoustic guitar.

Probably the biggest reference I can find musically, though, is Crimson Massacre, another band who plays extremely technical death metal, but, like Blasphemer, has an overarching sense of composition and arrangement that makes them stand out to me. As brutal as Blasphemer's music tends to be, with its excess of blasting, technical tremolo riffing, and gurgling vocals, there's a definite path the songs seem to follow. Unlike other technical brutal death bands, whose music tends to move in fairly arbitrary directions not particularly dictated by any sort of songwriting logic, Blasphemer has a strength to their actual compositions which makes them much more interesting. Listen to the delicate, dancing motions of the tremolo riffs on 'Cloaca of Iniquity'- this definitely isn't your typical brutal death album, and I have a feeling Blasphemer's tucked away a lot of hidden little gifts for the careful listener on this album.

Comatose's releases tend to be a little hit or miss for me, but I can absolutely say that this one is right on target. While the brutal death scene is rather crowded these days, Blasphemer is definitely up there in the top echelon of the genre. Any fan of extreme, brutal death metal should absolutely pick this one up. I've had it for a couple years now and it still holds up like the first day I got it.

Buy this album on Amazon

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