Album: The Grotesque Arena
Label: Brilliant Emperor Records
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Feculent hail from my former city of residence, Brisbane, Australia and formed back in 2019. The band is made up of current members of a number of other acts, such as Shackles, Snorlax, Resin Tomb, Descent, Siberian Hell Sounds and Idle Ruin. The four piece is MB (vocals), KD (guitar), BA (drums) and JD (bass).
The band play a blend of death and doom metal that is equal parts heavy, filthy and dissonant. If you’re a fan of Incantation, Disma, Dead Congregation or other similarly evil, dirty and heavy acts then this should make you very happy. The album moves at a steady pace, like a crawling monolith of sound that cannot be stopped by anything in its path. Bands like this show that you do not need to be fast to be brutal, that slow and steady can and does in fact win the race. When I say that it’s slow that doesn’t mean that there aren’t an insane number of crazy riffs, more that the album goes for a lumbering, pummeling style rather than insane shredding speed. The overall tone and atmosphere on the album are truly immersive and really draws you in. I believe that this is due to the sheer depth of sound present on the release or maybe it’s the level of dirt and grime present throughout the album or possible the sinister undertone that is inescapable on the release.
The vocals on the release are a blend between being crushingly guttural and high-pitched shrieks. They’re so prevalent and dominating that they somewhat set the tone for the whole album. Generally, as soon as you hear vocals of this nature you know that whatever you’re listening to is going to be heavy as hell. They really give the album a lot of its evil undertone and help make the release as heavy and assaulting as it is. Next up we have the guitar work which is equally as crucial to this album’s sound and energy. The constantly changing time signatures throughout the release keep the listener on their toes, as does the sheer dissonance of the release. The insane riffing that occurs throughout the album is a key part of the pummeling effect that it has. You never really know where the guitar is going to go next, what tempo it will take, what tone it will shift to.
The drum work on the album is also fantastic, assaulting the listener with a barrage of blast beats, as well as a number of other techniques. There is a balance struck here between death metal aggression and doom metal force and atmosphere. Without the ever-changing tempo of the drum work the release would fall flat or not make much sense, so from that perspective its equally as crucial as the guitar work on this album. Bass wise we have thick and chunky tones that add to the wall of sound that crashes down upon you. I would definitely say that on this release the guitar and drums overshadow the bass work, but I believe that the album still benefits greatly from its presence.
On the whole this was a truly impressive EP and some of the heaviest, dirtiest death metal I’ve heard in a minute. So, if you like your music extreme but aren’t obsessed with the notion that “fast equals brutal” then definitely check this bad boy out. Personally, I can’t wait for a full-length from the band. My expectations have been set fairly high, but I fully believe that they can meet them following what I heard here.
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