posted on 3/2012 By:
Some albums can be weird without integrating banjo solos or techno interludes. Case in point: Macabra's debut album, Blood-Nurtured Nature. This is the kind of record that may sound pretty ordinary until you really listen to it a couple of times. An awkward yet surprisingly listenable crossroads between cavernous Incantation-style death metal and the upbeat aggression of 80's thrash, Blood-Nurtered Nature succeeds largely because of its unusual display of expected extreme metal tropes. It's bizarre music delivered in a wholly traditional framework.
Unfortunately, the first thing most listeners will likely notice is the sound -- put simply, it's not very good. Everything feels too quiet and subdued, with a soft guitar tone and slightly flat drum mix. In the end, I kind of like the production though; it adds to the old, decaying atmosphere that this music successfully conveys. And while it may be soft, the guitar tone is adequate enough to properly deliver the intricacies of the playing, many of which may go unnoticed on initial spins. There's a lot of riffs per song, and while most are fairly simplistic, they remain quite memorable and entertaining thanks to their careful construction, along with the innovative mix of influences apparent in the writing. Macabra relies on an almost equal balance of morbid, harmonic-heavy grooves and tremolo runs a la Incantation and Immolation and chugging mid-paced thrash riffs along the lines of early Sepultura, leading to a sound that is both doomy and cavernous but also energetic and catchy.
It's an intriguing blend, made even more so by the almost exclusively straightforward, rock-based drumming. There's a couple of blastbeats to be found, but by and large, the drums maintain a steady mid-paced momentum, with very few slowdowns or breaks. The vocals are mostly forgettable, with an array of mumbling growls and strained screams that don't really add anything to the flow of the material, but in the end, I didn't notice that much. The guitar compositions are generally interesting enough to maintain your attention by themselves, although the lack of compelling vocal contributions makes things feel a little one-dimensional.
When factoring in the entrancing clean guitar interludes and the occasional ambient or orchestral intermission, Blood-Nurtered Nature ends up being a surprisingly evocative, atmospheric album. The riffing style and general quirky nature of the songwriting and production is ultimately what makes this music worthwhile -- with that said, it definitely isn't for everyone, and those who can't connect with the songs on that level likely won't find much to enjoy otherwise. Those that favor classic death metal may be surprised at how Blood-Nurtered Nature sinks its hooks into you once its weirdness sets in -- Macabra conjures the spirit of their ancestors in a refreshingly different fashion than many of their peers, and they are worthy of attention for doing so.
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