Thursday, September 27, 2012

Masachist - Scorned (2012)

Christ-raping fucknuts, Batman! I love Poland. Lately, it seems like everything I listen to from there has delivered the goods. And you know what? This time is no different. Masachist is another band of extreme skill and quality that follows the stylistic precepts of bands like Behemoth and Decapitated like gospel, also drawing subtler parallels to Vader, Lost Soul, and Calm Hatchery. The dense, ancient power of the riffing often also feels like an extension of Morbid Angel, to an extent. And while this warrior doesn’t brandish the most unique weapon in the horde, it fights as strongly as any, a flame-spewing war machine of choppy, muscular riffing, pulverizing percussion, and enough innate variety to fill out the 38 minute playtime with ease.

The Behemoth influence is overwhelming and obvious right out the gate on the opener Drilling the Nerves, with its crunchy, muted grooves suspended over a backdrop of calm, eerie, minimalist synths. It emanates power in the short exertions of blasting it evolves into, but a small demonstration of the carnage about to be wrought. The Process of Elimination is well titled, carving you up with blast-beat extremity and an array of violent, lurching riffs. Straight and Narrow Path lies somewhere between the two, settling into a nice, mechanistic groove and battering along with measured force, a freight train of damnation bearing down on your prone, bound form. The album consistently bathes in a bloody mixture of these extremes, and every track has a slightly different feel than the last, a great quality for any record. Other highlights include the dissonant, atmospheric slicing of Liberation and the epic desert march of Inner Void, which closes the album as the most progressive number.

The style here really is mostly a marriage of established formulas for greatness. The percussive, mechanical, fragmented bludgeoning of Decapitated and the grandiose, ancient riffing energy that makes Behemoth such unique and compelling conquerors meet in an orgy of swords and virulence to create the plagued essence of Scorned. The overwhelming quality is perhaps not so surprising when one considers the madmen behind this monument. With Thrufel (Azarath) on guitar, Daray (Vesania, Dimmu Borgir) on drums, Heinrich (Decapitated, Vesania) on bass, and the guttural emanations of Sauron (Decapitated) acting as voice to the madness, it’s not a far fetched statement to call them a sort of super group of underground Polish excellence. Each member is on the top of their respective game here, and I especially enjoyed the skillful battering of Daray, the best I've yet heard from him.

If there is any issue with Scorned, it’s that it wears its influences a bit too brazenly. It’s all redolent of  Behemoth and Decapitated, given, and those are great influences to have, but sometimes it feels like they’re really, really pushing it, as a certain section, every now and again, will feel almost directly lifted, like the beginning of Higher Authority and some sections in Inner Void. However, that is a rare thing, and even in that case, their chosen progressions are so strong that it does little to hinder my enjoyment. However, I have a feeling some might not be so forgiving. The production feels pretty level, allowing each instrument to breathe without sacrificing cohesion. This feels totally professional, with even the bass guitar getting its rightful place.

I really like Scorned, it stirs the spirit with grand, epic riffs and pummels the body with calculated grooving assaults. The songs are all well-crafted, with tasteful leads, and a propensity for the building and releasing of tension, never as ordinary as standard verse-chorus lethargy. I feel like the overwhelming similarities to bigger name projects will hamper their ability to find their place in the public eye, however, which sucks, but is understandable. This is an unyieldingly strong album with excellent riffs, interesting composition, tight execution, and a very real identity crisis. I thoroughly enjoyed what is has to offer, but it often felt like I was basking in the creative glow of Behemoth (even Sauron's vocals take on a near-identical timber to Nergal's at times), rather than that of Masachist, so heavy is their influence.

Please don’t let any of that dissuade you from checking this out, though, because despite similarities, this is fucking awesome. If you’re a fan brutal, titanic death metal, Polish or otherwise, this will be right up your alley. Similar to my last review for Costa Rican aspirants Advent of Bedlam, I feel that Masachist have the combined chops and compositional strength to make a proper impact, if only they could brand their own unique riffing style into the listeners brain. The thoughtful combination of the tendencies from their more popular countrymen is interesting and admirable, but it needs to go a step further if they want to be able to stand apart. So there you go, another wholly enjoyable release from Poland, making up what they lack in originality with absolute, dominant force. A very satisfying release.

8 / 10 - Cut Them Deep and Make Them Cry