Gutter Instinct – Heirs of Sisyphus (2018) REVIEW

Nobel prize winning revolutionary journalist, philosopher and author Albert Camus is remembered best for his contributions towards absurdism, an exploration of the futile relationship between the search for meaning and the empty hands mankind is left with as a result. Le Mythe de Sisyphe (1942) offered his contrast of the generative willful existence of the human species and suicide, positing that the act of killing oneself is an admission, proof, or an example of the choice humans make to escape the absurd paradox of existence. In keeping with titular themes the apex of the essay’s poignancy comes with a focus on King Sisyphus‘ waveform, the rise and fall of his eternity pushing a boulder to peak as it topples back down to his starting point. Camus suggests wryly that Sisyphus’ task has given eternal purpose only until he realizes it’s absurdity and ends it acknowledgment of the futility. In his failed attempt to give eternal life to humanity Sisyphus is given an eternity of futile nothingness.

Helsingborg, Sweden’s duo of death metal guitarists Hannes Hellman and Oscar Persson have been trudging up their own hill in unison since 2004 when they first began to collaborate in death/thrash band Krämatorium. From there the project became Zero Tolerance and would peter out in 2009. Gutter Instinct was close behind as a menacing war machine of blasting death metal meant to relight the flame of primal ancestors Repugnant, Verminous and early Stench. They weren’t yet firing on all cylinders but by ‘The Insurrection’ (2015) was a ruinous, aggressive Swedish death metal EP using the appropriate blender of sound for their initial goals. That sound bled profusely into their debut full-length ‘Age of the Fanatic’ (2016) and a wonky snare sound kept me at an arms length from and otherwise raw and exciting sound. It was an expected sort of release, a buzzsaw Swedish guitar album with some great love for thrashing madness. An unchanging stone many musicians continue to roll up the hill.

‘Heirs of Sisyphus’ casts aside the stone Gutter Instinct had been pushing and instead offers a complete revision, a holistic reconsideration of production ,and a heavily enlightened compositional leap that holds tight to their already admirable intensity. The most notable change besides a beautifully dynamic production and mix along with varying atmospheric texture comes with new vocalist Simon Fridlund who greets the storm of ‘Heirs of Sisyphys’ with a throat collapsing vocal performance that recalls Johan Larsson on Seance‘s ‘Fornever Laid to Rest’. Likewise some of Krypts‘ barreling echoes and Repugnant‘s skittering hardcore collapse fuel the near-progressive riff fest at the heart of ‘Heirs of Sisyphus’.

Equal parts furious crypt-dredging brutality and crawling blackened death atmospherics leave me enamored with moving guitar work that I feel is a standout for 2018 thus far. Like Temisto, Venenum, and Blood Incantation these Swedes offer challenging movements pressed up against recognizable old school death metal aesthetics that reach for a high standard without losing the raw edge necessary for modern death metal. Where I think folks will take issue depends on how adverse the listener might be with distinctly Swedish sonic identity; No, they don’t sound like Entrails necessarily but they’ve stripped out less of that HM-2 buzzsaw than say, Ensnared did on ‘Dysangelium’.

For my tastes this is an exceptionally twisted set of ruminations on the forms of old school death metal that quickly finds a pocket of intensity and dances around it deftly with variations and thematic returns that become a distinct and entertaining piece of death metal music. The riffs just ebb-and-flow from Gutter Instinct on ‘Heirs of Sisyphus’ whereas they used to vomit, snarl and splatter. For preview “Zenon” is a brilliant introduction to their sound, “The Abyss Speaks” showcases a god-like knack for blending old intensities with new melodic ideas, and I’d say “Uncreation” is one of the more captivating songs on the album. Highly recommended.

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Artist Gutter Instinct
Type Album
Released June 8, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Pulverised Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Gutter Instinct on Facebook
Genre Death Metal

This revolutionary cell. 4.0/5.0

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