Monday, November 15, 2010

Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement - As the Shroud of Suffering Suffocates the Land

Catastrophic Panoramic Brouhaha

Sevared Records will probably go down in my own personal history book as one of the worst metal labels to exist. Almost every release I've heard from them (and believe me when I say I've heard plenty) has been repugnant. "Repugnant" could actually be a compliment since I'm sure the over-the-top brutality and thick slams that punctuate most of the records are entirely the aim, ignoring songwriting, memorability, technical skill, and everything involved in music making. You always know what you're going to get, but most of their fodder tends to be low rate slam death with little thought behind it, and it's not the good kind of stupid (Jungle Rot). With that said, North Carolina's own Shuriken Cadaveric Entwinement is probably the least repulsive act I've found flying the Sevared flag.

First off, the band has to have the worst name I've ever stumbled across. They sure managed to pick three cool words, it's just unfortunate that they make no fucking sense when put together. I understand this seems like a superficial thing to be hung up on, but for Greek's sake, the name of your band is your first impression. It's your image, your identifier, it's how people will remember your band forever. Perfunctory Wingnut Calamity may be aiming for stupid, but this is mind numbing. And while I'm focusing on the flash as opposed to the substance, I must applaud the band for focusing their imagery on feudal Japan. This is a brutal time in history, rife with tales of battle and savagery that seems strangely untouched by much of metal. The burning of HonnĊ-ji, the battle of Mikatagahara, the... resurrection of the undead Genma forces? The demonic plaguewielding supervillian Nobunaga Oda? Oh, I see. This band learned everything it knows about Japan from the Onimusha videogames, nevermind.

The main problem with As the Shroud of Suffering Suffocates the Land is that it drags like a dog's ass on the carpet. The opening track is nearly seven minutes long, which is an insane marathon length for brutal death metal like this, and it's amplified by the fact that it's boring as hell and feels twice as long. Obsequies Quixotic Barbecue eschew the normal pig grunts and other assorted animal noises usually associated with Sevared denizens in favor of more traditional, Glen Benton-esque double layered death growls. Musically this also carries a slight Deicide vibe, although a paradoxically more laid back yet more crushing version. The two riffing styles on display are fast, atonal tremolo picking, and relentless pinch harmonic punctuation. The former style is much more interesting, as the stop-start dweedling of the pinching is extremely noticeable to the point of it being detrimental. Most of the time it doesn't fit, whereas the tremolo attack keeps the pace up and actually crafts interesting lines from time to time (the main riff of Ascension of Nobunaga is a prime example). There are a few slams and breakdowns here and there that attempt to spice up the mix but they don't do much help. The thing that makes this album so confusing to me is the drumming. It's fast, it's prominent, but it's also weak at the same time. The production is partially at fault for this anomaly, as the drums are pushed to the front of the mix, yet the bass drum sounds like somebody slapping a basketball and the snare sounds like it's covered in Ritz crackers. It entirely decimates the power they clearly intend to highlight. The other huge problem is the man's playing style in the first place. Double bass is pounding about 85% of the time, but his upper half seems stuck in half time. This gives the illusion that the song is moving at half the speed, despite what the riffs and bass drum are doing.

Despite the complaints, Phantasmal Blinkering Squeegee isn't all that bad. As the Shroud of Suffering Suffocates the Land is an enjoyable, if bland and somewhat weak, romp through bloody battlegrounds and demonic carnage. Standout tracks would be "Ascension of Nobunaga", "Screams of the Genma", and "Crumbling the Throne of the Fallen", but listening to the entire album can be a bit of a chore if it isn't used for background purposes.

Invertebrate Merriment Squirrel.

RATING - 67%

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