DIPYGUS – Bushmeat (2021)REVIEW

Captivity means being as close to your own unmanageably piling shit as possible, demeaning away eons auld arcs of survival with walled-in psychic limitations that spiral the reactive nature of our primate existence into the ailments of those unwillingly out-of-step with the world: Anxiety, depressive boredom, self-harm and deranged anti-social behaviors that stem from the mania of a four-walled ape brain. How curious is it then, that self-imposed limits can empower an artist in search of the nascent age of their craft? In access of our primordial soup’d extreme metal brains, which’d thrived in the nuclear reactive status of the mid-to-late 80’s corporate opportunism, we resurface the double-edged sword of naïve primitivism: The debunk of the myth of the “brutal savage“, that the old days were better (more brutal) days or, somehow more earnest in any sense beyond typically younger participants and their manageable club drug addictions. More importantly we learn how uncomfortably plastic it is to perpetually repeat history out of step with the reality of today, to celebrate the 1990’s in the 2020’s is to engage in outright tradition — That which becomes increasingly tribal in value and engagement. Santa Cruz, California-based death metal quintet Dipygus arrive in chunks wrapped in vellum, caked with dried blood and the expiration date scrubbed off. Cracking into their second full-length ,‘Bushmeat‘, reveals the sinus-piercing must of old rot, not a refined palate delighting odour but a Hell of a stinking fury. The tongue-wetting fat and crunchy bits may satiate your simian guts to start but the throne-cracking hurling that follows will fill the mind with little more than horror, intestinal parasites and regret.

If you were to wheel back in time in a concerted dance through the classics of early 90’s death metal you’d likely make the same mistake so many others did and find your own point of insertion into the conversation just beyond ‘Mental Funeral’ and hey, nobody would blame you. For the sake of revisionist history focusing only on the best-selling achievements of Autopsy overlooking ‘Acts of the Unspeakable’ probably feels entirely natural as it was a very 1989 statement circa 1992 yet we can find a lot of the most characteristic stylistic elements folks borrow from those masters in said album, which incorporated more doom and more grindcore into their greater grotesqueries. This is más o menos the broader Rosetta stone for what Dipygus are all about, pushing the tribalistic, gory brutality of their theme and making a meal of it with sampled horrors whilst slinging their mass of flesh between death/doom and punkish bursts. When I reviewed their first album (‘Deathooze‘, 2019) I’d set their sound somewhere between (early) Vastum, Undergang and especially Nuclear Death‘s ‘All Creatures Great and Eaten’ in terms of the grime and bounding doomed hooks they’d been capable of and well, I’ve no really new notes here for this second album in terms of style. They’re still nailing this aspect of their sound while developing the general variety a two guitar gig allows. This is a prime example of what I’d call “garage” death metal, relatively frills-light riff directed work that builds on groove and a jammed together feeling for atmosphere. It feels human in performance sure, but they’re not wandering around aimlessly; Dipygus are still fuckin’ mean in the way that more machined-out death metal often is but they get there via insane snarling (see: “Bushmeat”) and weird-ass grooves. Caveman stupid, eh? Kinda, but not in the dumbass 90’s toughguy hardcore infused fashion we’re getting too often these days.

If you’re already a fan of ‘Deathooze’ you’ll note this record has a bit clearer render and less obscured guitar tone since the original drummer Sam jumped to second guitar after they onboarded Bog Stomper (Gloam) on drums. They’ve also hit up a different studio for the recording Darker Corners Studios, opting for mixing via Earhammer Studios (whom recorded the first record) and shopped the mastering to Mammoth Sound. The studio namedrops and new member shouldn’t mean much of anything to you as a listener but the way it reads to me is that they had budget enough to hit a professional standard and they’ve made a conscious effort to kick things into serious gear. The result maintains that sewer showered and depraved feeling without intentionally obscuring any of the performances and this means the heavily distorted bass and layers of vocals really give Dipygus personality to the point where the audio samples/skits aren’t the only shit I remember when the album is over. That isn’t to say that ‘Bushmeat’ is a catchy, overtly tuneful or particularly accessible trip but I appreciate they’ve found a way to sound professional enough without losing the disgusting, horrifying feel of their first record.

As much as I love the jog-paced swagger that ‘Bushmeat’ returns with the major moments for my own taste this time around found the band drawing lovingly-spaced chalk outlines around the corpse of late 80’s death/doom. “Osteodontokeratic Savagery” is the head-first dive into this realm that had me hanging on every note, eating the facemeat off their studious-skulled sense of movement and the greater progression the two guitars lay out in the opening two minutes of the piece. The slow-blasting transitions and horrifying vocals should really compound that Vastum reference earlier (see also: “Myiasis in Human Mouth”) but beyond that I’d been struck by Dipygus‘ considerable strength in the seasickness of their creeping slow and picking up hot alternating motions. “Long-Pig Feast” is probably my personal favorite track here with its psychedelic swamp-stomping riffs and blurry lead-in melody. This piece best exemplifies the “dance” of a certain breed of underground death metal where the thrill is their dance on the verge of collapse, you’ll find this in a lot of Midwest United States death metal as well as some of the earlier death/doom bands out of the Netherlands in the late 80’s. It leaves me (again) hanging on every note even if the riffs aren’t mind-blowing in complexity or overall statement and this ultimately generates value that doesn’t require heavy rock hooks or technical feats, very much in keeping with the suggested major influences for the band. It all soaks into a mess of cryptid mystère and moshable junkyard death that never feels dryly “retro” or going through the motions for the sake of filler or self-indulgence. I ended up liking this one a fair bit more than ‘Deathooze’: The sampled bits are less intrusive, they’ve upped the doom, upped their craft, upped the drumming considerably, and managed to not lose sight of what makes Dipygus their own notable gig. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Memento Mori [CD],
Expansion Abyss [LP]
RELEASE DATE:January 25th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Memento Mori Website
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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