Sunken Chambers of Nephilim
posted on 2/2011 By:
I respect the fact that there’s a sizeable audience for the kind of brutal death metal sculpted by bands like Australia's Disentomb, and while I don’t exactly place myself in that pool (not all the way at least), music like this can fill a satisfying niche of chest-thumping brutality and head-spinning complexity. Personally, I’d rather hear one extreme (Devourment) or the other (Psycroptic) over a combination of both, simply because music so simultaneously dense and intricate is hard to effectively execute for most bands, both instrumentally and production-wise. Disentomb doesn’t exactly defy this challenge on their debut full length, Sunken Chambers of Nephilim, but they do make a pretty solid effort and throw in some interesting curveballs along the way.
Disentomb falls squarely under the banner of brutal/slam death metal, which means most of us should know what to expect: take the standard Suffocation formula, increase the tempo, up the breakdowns, and remove the guitar solos. While I can headbang and grimace to this stuff as much as the next guy, my biggest issue with this kind of music is how ultimately non-descript it is. It's admirably performed and composed, and I’m sure these guys are serious as hell about their craft and put plenty of effort into this release, but when all is said and done there’s really no atmosphere or distinctive character to this material once you get past the "wow" factor of its delivery. It's not sterile, overproduced, or robotic, nor is it filthy, raw, and primitive. It's just kind of…there, and while I can respect and applaud its approach from an objective perspective, it's not something I would ever listen to regularly in my free time.
But I should also stress that this is far from a boring album. In fact, Disentomb has a sizeable leg up on many of their genre peers in terms of crafting riffs that actually stick with you. The most attention-grabbing moments come when the band sneakily slides some sinister melodies and crafty bass licks in amidst the palm-muted chaos; these elements, while fleeting overall, are refreshing in the context of such an unforgiving sound and can really hook you back in if you find yourself getting lost in the torrent of slams and hyperblasts. Not to say that the band’s main focus is without merit either, mind you. Despite the intense speed and some questionable production choices, most of this material is pretty easy and gratifying to follow, and maintains a clear and strong tone even when things get super jumpy. It just starts to feel a little static after the first few songs, and there’s very little on tap here beyond the pure aesthetic appeal of this kind of riffing and drumming style.
And that’s probably all many of you will need to make Sunken Chambers of Nephilim worth a purchase, and to that, I say: more power to you. If you find yourself perpetually on the hunt for technically engaging brutal death that shuns glossy production and cosmic lyrics, Disentomb’s debut offering makes for a tasty morsel to gnaw on. Just don’t expect any more from it than that, and you’ll enjoy it just fine.
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