Saturday, September 29, 2012

Centurion - Serve No One (2012)


Centurion is another heretical death metal mercenary in the growing army of the Polish underground, a scene of huge talent and ferocity at this point in time. They made an attack on the world 10 years ago with their first full-length, which I’ve not heard, then just sort of dropped off the map. They’ve now returned with a new application for the firing squad in 2012 with Serve No One. While it’s unerringly brutal, and provides a primal pummeling satisfaction, it’s too low on memorability to leave any distinct mark on either the scene or the consciousness, which is too bad, considering the band’s considerable skill.

This sort of barbarous, bludgeoning, blasting death metal is the type one would expect to find from Angelcorpse, Deicide, or the early works from Morbid Angel. Rarely do the band relent from their endless wave of Christ-pounding punishment, and while this kind of muscular work ethic works for some (the latest from Chaos Inception comes to mind), in this case it feels too familiar, and not dynamic enough to really stick to the ribs. That said, Serve No One is still an admirable, appreciably brutal attack that certainly doesn’t fail to exert some degree of force and blasphemy. The riffs are a roiling morass of decrepit, choppy progressions, rooted in the slime of Altars of Madness and storming ahead at Mach 10, and while a great many fail to differentiate themselves, they’re strong enough as to not make this album anywhere near bad, and even lightly enjoyable for its short, 28 minute length.

Instrumentation is as solid as you would expect given the medium of this monstrous form of expression, with a particularly skilled drummer and audible, if not very warm or full, bass lines to compliment the spasmodic riffing architecture, and Caesar’s (Caesar, Rome, anti-Christian… see what they did there?) genre-typical grunts act as a fine focal point. This is straightforward, ferocious death metal, and the lyrics follow suit, a tirade against Christianity that possesses absolutely no subtlety or poeticism, a trait that exhibits its own Neanderthal charm in conjunction with albums of this nature, even if it’s pretty derivative. Some lines are just downright funny:

‘Fields of impaled ones
Rotting corpses stink
Their cut off heads
Will be our trophy
Fuck you and die
You deplorable christian faggot’

….Indeed. That’s some weighty literature there. I’m no fan of Christianity, but come on. To be fair, most of the lines aren’t nearly that bad, and get the point across without resorting to childish, homosexual pejoratives. Despite its inherent, whirling simplicity and sometimes boneheaded lyrics, there are a few moments in Serve No One that show promise, usually when the band reins in the momentum, and these sections assert that Centurion could be much more interesting if they chose. Parts such as the vast, cyclical riffing architecture in Gateways to Condemnation, the steady marching inferno of Thy Portal, the chopping thrashy outro to Cut the Throat, and the rhythmic pulsing of No One to Serve are glimmers of greatness in a band that hovers just slightly above average. The rest doesn’t lack for ferocity, and there is a measurable amount of fun to be had being stomped by its formidable tempo, reveling in simplistic monotheistic gore, and picking out the handful of truly strong riffs, but at length, I’m afraid I’m just not going to remember much of this, or feel an impetus to listen to it over the hundreds of other death metal bands vying for my attention, far too many of them of simply immaculate quality.

This was a fun diversion, but not something I’ll likely be coming back to, as I can get this same fix, with infinitely more personality, from groups like Hour of Penance and the aforementioned Chaos Inception. With a world so awash with worthy death metal bands, it takes a special spark to really set yourself apart, and in Centurion, it’s simply to buried too deeply for it to be worth the dig. I have no doubt that there’s a better market for this than I, though, and if you live and breathe the heathen storms of Angelcorpse and their ilk, than by all means, please check out Serve No One. Centurion are fucking furious, and they provided me with enough quality here to wish them well, if with a firm handshake rather than a sobbing hug, and hope for a brighter (darker?) future for us both, if and when we meet again.

6.5 / 10 - The Anemic Anti-Christ