The barrage of brutal death metal bands swarming the globe post-1998 were only partially due to the void left after the dissolution of Suffocation and instead represented a rapidly multiplying legacy of savage, hammered-out, and often derivative death metal increasingly easier to make thanks to the lower cost and forgiving nature of fully digital production. Brutal death metal absolutely defined and shaped a new extreme metal underground in the early 2000’s and hit hard enough to see a blessed defenestration of symphonic black metal’s rise in the United States. New leaders cropped up seemingly overnight in New York, California and Texas based scenes in particular and quickly became as sonically inbred and tightly knit as any number of historical hardcore crews. If you lived through it and you didn’t see a cultural phenomenon in front of you… You were probably like me and saw the thuggish, thoughtlessness chuggery of the movement and found few meaningful releases to latch onto. I did my best to follow the post-2000 explosion until about 2006 where I largely gave up when slam and deathcore’s popularity began to move too far into bad metalcore meme territory. Austin, Texas brutal death metal quartet Infuriate wholeheartedly represent the best of that ‘golden’ era of brutality from ~1998-2005 on their self-titled debut.
There is nothing bold in claiming ‘Paths of the Weakening’, ‘Misanthropic Carnage’, and ‘Brutality is Law’ as classics today in hindsight but the gluttonous harvest of 2003 was comparable to the over-saturated death metal markets of today and bands like Severe Torture, Severed Savior, and Deeds of Flesh all felt relatively interchangeable at that point. Being the inquisitive, open-minded fellow that I often am I’d taken it upon myself to make good friends with two enthusiastic brutal death collectors and sort of siphon off the ace stuff as it came because there was just too much to dig through. I was one of those hapless idiots who really dropped any true devotion to brutal death beyond Suffocation and Pyrexia; Few seemed to have any truly great takes on their innovation until Deeds of Flesh, and I’d still suggest few have since. Before I lose the plot here entirely the point here is that having access to a lot of brutal death allowed me to form a taste for certain Suffo-clones (like Typhoid) as well as some of the deathgrind leaning, riff-focused stuff like Images of Violence and their ‘Cadaverous Recomposition’ (2004) EP. When I like a guitarist’s work I tend to follow most of their projects and thus I became familiar with Steven Watkins work in Sarcolytic; In forming Infuriate with drummer Sterling Junkin (Id, Valdris) it seems Watkins intent (or, result) was something more organic that hits more like 1995 than 2005 in terms of brutal death metal.
Joined by Id vocalist/guitarist Jason Garza and bassist Alan Berryman (Whore of Bethlehem), Infuriate sound incredibly tight and precise for a brutal death troupe just a few years into their gig; The flow of the album is as effortless as it is urgently driven by a growling, rapid fire set of riffs that never fixate on one groove too long. The approach isn’t severely distanced from albums like ‘Sermon of Mockery’ but with the intricate guitar work you’d expect from early Severe Torture or Defeated Sanity without fully resembling technical death metal. With no distinct beginning or ending to signal it’s loop I found myself spinning the album into a blur for hours focusing largely on the guitar work and what I’d consider Suffocation-esque vocal patterning. It does feel like a trip back towards mid-to-late 90’s brutal death metal in terms of sound but I’d suggest what makes it beyond ordinary is capturing that riff-heavy spirit of the 2003 brutal death metal.
Does any of that hold any salt for folks who don’t know what the hell sort of brutal nonsense I’ve been rambling about for a few thick paragraphs… or at least don’t remember any of it? Maybe. Brutal death metal has it’s own universal appeal when properly recorded and stuffed with riffs but, I think they key will be Infuriate‘s razor sharp guitar work; That sort of thrashing attack that reminds me more of bands like Scaphism and less of anything currently on Unique Leader or Willowtip. If you’re drawn towards brutal death metal bands that find a ‘pocket’ and just hit it for a half hour a la early Deeds of Flesh this album is an easy recommendation. For preview I’d always recommend the opener first on a brutal death album as it always sets the tone and “Juggernaut of Pestilence” is no different. From there “Only Pain Remains” and “Collective Suffering” really show off some of the texturally satisfying guitar work that highlights most tracks on Infuriate‘s debut.
Choking sanity’s collapsing throat. 3.5/5.0
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