Monday, October 24, 2011
Review: Copremesis - Muay Thai Ladyboys
While this is "brutal death metal" taxonomically, Copremesis doesn't really have the same musical goals as the rest of brutal death metal, it doesn't seem. They're less about crushing the listener or putting them in a state of awe or terror or even disgusting them really- their particular style is more playful, darting, and sort of inviting at the same time. It's brutal death, but it doesn't feel "intimidating," as such. I don't picture these guys standing around in "Butchered at Birth" hoodies like I do when I listen to Severe Torture. This might be colored by the time I saw them live, where all the members were smiling broadly and Paulo was jumping, running, and maniacally thrashing all over the tiny stage. He looked like he was moving in fast-forward; that's how much enthusiasm these guys bring to the table.
If the appropriate expression while listening to Devourment is overly serious and pouty, I suppose this one is more of an arched eyebrow and half-smile kinda thing. Copremesis plays an exceedingly technical and linear style of brutal death metal with periodic dips into slam, but that doesn't quite articulate what these guys sound like. There's the riffs; they buzz, they whirr, they chug and occasionally arpeggiate- in short, they do everything but typical brutal death metal riffing. Slams come out in strange, morphing time signatures and multiple vocal layers slither over and around each other, with different textures of gurgles gliding across the framework of the music in a surprisingly relaxed fashion to contrast the frenzy of the instrumental section below. But that oversimplifies the music, too, as it's not all frantic; in fact, in many ways it's the opposite. I've never heard a band as technical, fast, and extreme as Copremesis sound so oddly... relaxed about the whole thing. It's brutal death metal without the brutality, you might say.
But without getting bogged down in aimless abstraction, Copremesis sounds sort of like Malignancy with doses of Immolation, Vomit Remnants, Cryptopsy, and overt slam tossed in- it's less about creating a brutal death metal album and more about playing around with death metal itself. You can see overt references to individual bands from song to song- a section clearly cribbed from Incantation here, a Levasseur-derived bit of neoclassical soloing there- and it's obvious that Copremesis wanted to make this almost a tribute album to their idols and favorite elements of death metal throughout history. Still, much of their own personality shines through. The thoroughly unusual riffing style is as much Malignancy as it is Dying Fetus as it is Artery Eruption, and again, as it is Gorguts- the guitarwork doesn't really play by any set of rules but its own, and it makes for some fascinatingly textured music throughout. Perhaps the biggest credit has to be given to the fantastic drumming, though: it's delightfully musical, packed with variation and subtle touches, and could be isolated in the mix and released as an album of its own.
Copremesis treats extreme music like a sandbox to imagine in, rather than as a set of legos to construct something from. Nothing on "Muay Thai Ladyboys" is particularly memorable or catchy; it's an album that you instead throw on and sort of sink into, enjoying the little flourishes in the riffs, the crazed, beautifully detailed drumming, and the perpetually gurgling and burping and snorting vocal presence. It's definitely a very curious album, and not one particularly designed for "brutal death people" in my estimation. Kind of unfortunate that more haven't given these guys a try- there's nothing quite like it out in the metal scene today. This isn't an every day item for me, but when it hits, it hits hard. Worth a look from the more open-minded sects.
It only occurred to me after writing the above review that I had totally missed the best way to describe this album: as a Dr. Seuss version of brutal death metal. It's amazing just how much of the standard lexicon of this style of music is used but crafts an utterly different atmosphere from the standard. It's worth reiterating that while "Muay Thai Ladyboys" is a brutal death metal album, as that's where the musical techniques of this music place it taxonomically, it doesn't come off as exceedingly brutal, deathly, and only somewhat metallic. While there are blast beats, extreme, inhaled gurgles, and crushing slam riffs, this music doesn't contain the implied "threat" that other death metal does- instead, it's playful, clever, and agile music that transports you to the sort of oddly-colored world where there are giant mushrooms instead of trees, mammals with seven legs and five eyes, and girls with bigger dicks than you could ever imagine.
If you say that death metal is the sound of horrible monsters devouring helpless victims, this album is the sound of those same hideous creatures playing hide and seek; they're still sort of intimidating and kind of hard to look at given the gnashing teeth and razor-sharp claws, but seeing such perfect carnivores... FROLICKING inspires a perplexed gaze rather than a terrified cower. Copremesis, without straying outside the basic lines of the brutal death metal style, have managed to single-handedly prove that the conceptual and emotional wavelength for such an extreme style of music is infinitely broader that nearly any had previously imagined. When the less clever among us dismiss brutal death as nothing but juvenile misogyny or bland, adolescent rage, this is the album to show them: funny, wistful, free, and happy to invite you to take part in the sort of clever savagery that it's mastered so well.