DISRUPTED – Pure Death (2020)REVIEW

The finer points of Swedish death metal guitar tone modulation and capture are essentially, and perhaps vitally, a lost cause that allows for a tradition of “turn it up and chunk” Boss HM-2 party music. The just add water version of the Stockholm sound is effective as instant metal, the simplest crust or doom metal riff suddenly resembles the well-worn Svensk greats that came before, and the few that came after, and the worldwide imitation of this sound seemingly ad infinitum. Of course I listen to all of it, ‘Clandestine’ was an important album in my youth and it is yet part of my death metal vocabulary. — Each year at least a few bands harness this powerful sound and do something worthwhile with it; Where this becomes regressive and unsteady this last decade (for my own taste) is when the application of simplistic 90’s hardcore/crust songwriting appears without any point of view or, nuance. If we stretch back to Nirvana 2002‘s earliest demo there was an angle upon basic forms that made their attack memorable, they were perhaps listening to early grind and late 80’s thrash nearby. If we tick forward a couple of years to Interment it was clear the forceful nature of competitive camaraderie had pushed their demos to higher achievement or, at least variation. “Scene pressure”, if you will. Seeing the glut of same-sounding bands and having the guts to do something primal (read: “pure”) yet unique beyond standard bearers has long produced bands that folks happily remember (with a bit of digging), everything from God Macabre and Goddefied back in the day to modern greats in Mass Burial and Black Breath today. The stuff that sticks isn’t just a grinding good time but records that show prowess for the bigger picture, its history of modification, and clever use of a generic sound. If you love those finer points of Swedish death metal and find yourself regularly immersed in its broader globe blanketing influence no doubt a record like Disrupted‘s sophomore full-length ‘Pure Death‘ will speak to you. Their goal is pure, straight-up and unapologetic chainsaw chunking Swedish death metal at face value yet a closest examination of riffcraft unveils somewhat sharp taste in underground classics, peripheral mastery and general weird-yet-commercial edges of that “Stockholm sound.”

As legacy bands trudge on and find themselves in need of touring musicians and fresh blood for songwriting, often hiring and cycling through already established younger acts for rhythm sections or vocalists, we find that newer generation either inspired or jaded beyond. The smartest fellows network on tour and start bands together beyond and I’d say Disrupted is more or less included in this phenomenon having members who’ve featured on records from Katatonia, Uncanny, as well as Spasmodic (who’ve their own associations with Demonical/Centinex etc.) What does this mean for their sound? Well, nothing. I mean throw on their first EP (‘Heavy Death‘, 2014) and the subsequent debut full-length beyond (‘Morbid Death‘, 2015) and you don’t need any particular input to hear the groaty Grave influences, the punkish expanse of ‘Clandestine’ and pretty straight forward take on ’89-’92 Swedish death metal as it developed beyond ‘Severed Survival’ worship and springing kängpunk riffs. In this sense ‘Pure Death’ couldn’t be more straight forward an indicator of the Disrupted‘s major intent. It just, isn’t complicated, man. Yet there are choices made along the way that do make the experience memorable and valuable in the same way an Under the Church record might feel more genuine than say, a Ribspreader joint.

I’m in it for the outliers, the stuff like Utumno, Eternal Darkness and Crematory where a stellar set of ideas didn’t make it far beyond the demo stages for a variety of reasons but are yet remembered fondly for being forward thinking or downright impressive in hindsight. The side of Swedish death metal that doesn’t hold up is the stuff that just goes through the motions for the sake of nostalgia and I wouldn’t blame anyone for grabbing a clip of any one of the songs on ‘Pure Death’ and figuring you’ve heard the full album. Hell, in some sense you have likely gotten the complexity of their odour up front but with some patience a well-rounded record does emerge. If you hit play and make it to “Carve” you’ll get what I mean, its Murder Squad (or, Vanhelgd really) slow grind is key for propping Disrupted‘s stature up near a band like Maim, very focused on one thing but finding the variations that work with some sharp insight along the way. By the time we’ve hit Side B and run into “Pestilential Vomit” it is at least clear mid-to-slow pace is the strength and ‘meat’ of the full experience but this also highlights what I’d consider generic songwriting, style over substance which pops up along the way. “Slave From the Grave”, “Human Stew” (see: Entombed‘s ‘Inferno’), and to some degree “Headless Torso” find a reasonable balance between the hardcorish and accessible song structures of bigger HM-2 grinders like Demonical and LIK (Tomas Åkvikand even contributes a solo on one song) and a slightly more dry production sound that does actually recall the early days of the trend.

For a ~35 minute Swedish death metal record that doesn’t fuck around, deploys a varied set of riffing styles, mixes up the pacing, and manages some notable guest spots from members of Bloodbath, Wretched Fate and such, the experience leaves me satisfied without any particularly electrifying thrill to be had. I’ve long suggested that the stylistic callback to this overblown distortion-nuked style of regionally defining death metal is more valuable as traditional maintenance than ‘modern’ presence — A good enough reason to talk about the lineage it suggests. Beyond that, the value proposition here boils down to a band like Disrupted reminding me how much I love the hundred shot-gun sized power of records like ‘Dark Recollections’ and all the stuff that came in the wake of Nihilist. These guys manage something with a bit of life behind the eyes, there are some stock standard moments along the way but the tracklist is generally well-balanced by rippers that spark up a new direction just as Disrupted begin to lean too hard on one angle. The ability to pivot, to explore and to do so within such strict traditional guidelines doesn’t escape ‘genre music’ station but panders to the exact right part of my brain as a longtime fan of the sub-genre and its generationally developed “retro” niche. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Pure Death
LABEL(S):Memento Mori [CD]
De:Nihil [Vinyl]
RELEASE DATE:October 26th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [Vinyl],
Memento Mori Website [CD]
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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