As pleasing as binary thought can be as an exercise in simplicity, appealing to all manner of human being regardless of background, a forced societal division between two parties is exactly the recipe for war and genocide that it intends to be. The illusion of a singular identity that is superior and ‘more’ than another carries all of its power in the choice it forces upon the individual in times of war and death on a massive scale. One man’s lie can usurp an entire government in times of uncertain change, and in the case of late 1960’s Indonesia arising social democracy and the building momentum of humanist political change it’d take one insistent lie to justify the brutal, absolutely vile massacre of one million people. It’d began with the slaughter of suspected communists then it became government sanctioned murder of entire Chinese, Bengali, Javanese, etc. families before it became plain and unabashed murder without any need for justification; Summary executions piled rivers full of bodies and for the next two generations an unwavering campaign of denial (sanctioned by the United States at every step) hid that body count well into the 1980’s. It took nothing more than the suggestion of a failed communist coup from a usurping general to butcher, rape, torture, imprison, and bury a million Indonesians in shallow graves — The power of “us versus them”, the illusion of solitary righteousness, without any alternative is a strong enough point to make but fighting the ingrained need to avoid the conversation on mass killings in the name of shifting governmental power is yet the bigger conversation and well, why shouldn’t a brutal death metal band from the East Java area be the ones to bring it up? Stare into death’s one million haunting faces and feel through their rhythms the unimaginable ripples of pain and injustice within the haunting, barbaric rip of Rottenblast‘s second full-length album ‘Ilusi Soliteris’.
It wouldn’t be fair to suggest there are any particular political motivations on the part of the band but there is little-to-no chance of maintaining neutrality when faced with such intensely evil subject matter. Song titles such as “1965” (the year the massacre began), “Genocida”, and the translation of the album’s title being pulled from social choice theory in terms of dangerous divisive rhetoric all lead me to believe they’re approaching the event as non-deniers bringing light to one of the largest and most disturbing genocides ever lost to history. Reading accounts of the massacre among survivors, some even remarking that the murders became commonplace savageries equated to entertainment, definitely made me ill while listening to this fantastic brutal death metal album; ‘Ilusi Soliteris’ leans smartly into classic forms of 90’s death metal while continuing to pay homage to the Suffocation influenced outbreak of brutal death metal in the 2000’s. To have gone from a more blast-heavy Disavowed-covering brutal troupe on their first demo (‘Brutality in the World‘, 2010) to refining that brutality on their first album (‘Pasukan Tak Bertuhan‘, 2013) no doubt struck a chord with me since they’d nailed that claustrophobic brain-melting brutality to an exacting standard at the time. Seven years later they’ve kept it heavy and riotous but now incorporate elements of death/thrash, classic thrash, as well as their ‘old school’ brutal death metal hammering ways into some incredible floods of riff, roar and blast along the way.
Beyond the subject matter, the horror of genocide, and some room shaking but contained sound design it is the guitar arrangements from Hafid Amad and new second guitarist Chairul Yuda that inspired me to leave this fantastic CD spinning for weeks. The ripping, brutal build-and-collapse wallop of “Deviasi Tahta” is exemplar enough of the major update that Rottenblast has gotten from this second album but the massive grooves of the title track, and the riffs-upon-riffs of the last three songs (including a cover of Kreator‘s “Flag of Hate”) steal the show on the full spin. Amad‘s compositional and technical skills have upped the ante to a level of songwriting that rivals the old New York greats and their worldwide spawn but, I’d also suggest his style would appeal to folks who enjoy the unique flair of Japanese band Defiled, who are likewise attuned to old school extreme metal but uniquely phrased in every case. The blasting death/thrash rattle of “Simposium Kompulsif” in its second half is easily among the more memorable death metal chunks I’ve heard so far this year and if that wasn’t enough “Negeri Temaram” outdoes it with a series of ‘Souls to Deny’-level riffs that’d inspire me to re-spin the album an extra ten or so times just for the thrill of circling back around to them.
You’ve gotten the hint, then: ‘Ilusi Soliteris’ is a furiously thrashed out ‘old school’ brutal death metal album that earns its place on my shelf by way of fantastic and relentless rhythmic excellence. The appeal of the guitar work will be evident the moment “Parade Darah” begins to hurl all manner of thunder across the mix, it was a spine-cracking induction on my part. I won’t give all the credit to the guitarists but their work was admittedly my main focus for several listens, the thread they present is a cruel joy to behold and well worth repeating. Beyond my own fixations it should be clear that Rottenblast have brought not only important cultural subject matter to their work but a piece of their own history to the brutal satisfaction of their music. It won’t replace my old Typhoid and Inveracity CDs just yet but surely belongs on the same shelf with ’em. A high recommendation for folks who’re inclined towards the brutal spectrum of death metal but still want a classic 90’s death metal album’s sense of reasonably dynamic render.
High recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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