After that, it’s all downhill. The lyrics are very stupid and dumb… Decomposed Maggots in Your Coffin, Black Breath. If this band would slow down a little and get a new singer, anybody would be an improvement, they could have a chance. This is trash and deserves to be burned.” Chris Forbes, Metal-Core Zine, Issue #2, 1987

Embracing the psychotic addiction of the fully engorged amygdala — the triune brain’s engagement of psycho-sexual, emotional, anxietous, and aggressive action(s) in response to fearsome and chaotic stimuli we approach the hysteria of dying in witness of corporeal dissociation; Escaping the body, losing the mind and giving in to the trauma of grievous injury via pernicious inhumanity. Trust that whomever crippled your corpse and tortured the husk found thrill, a pants-shitting n’ smirking joy, in your horrifying death. What gnarled hand guides the barbed-wire wrapped club to your knees is the same that’d riff the creeped sado-serial killer vibe of Montague, Massachusetts-based death metal band Anthropophagous on their debut full-length, ‘Death Fugue‘. Rooted in the scum arisen battery of punk-blasted death/thrash metal the core duo responsible for this abominant sluice represent the ideological apex of United States death metal in its purest, unadulterated format: The garage-thrashed death metal album, jammed and self-recorded in their rehearsal space and presented on do-it-yourself homespun terms. This unrepentant species of fiend feeds upon the sound of decaying tapes, ancient photocopied corpses, and a love for the alienated ambitions of zombie-fingered death metal at peak late 80’s thrash metal abnormity.

The “point” of death metal was never meant to be diluted down to a singular essence or replicated as a science, it’d always been about getting foulest sickness and trauma out of the flesh via the irreverent mind. A perfectly caustic “extreme” reaction to extreme mundanity, a Reagan-era mom shocking heavy metal outlet perfect for the global overstock on introverted weirdos. Or it was about thrash metal teenagers making disgusting, faster noise via low-purity suburban coke, Slayer riffs and stolen beer, whatever. Point being that the early stuff made its name via dumbass gore, tapes and riffs that all pool into the greater mass of Anthropophagous‘ sound and style, which is holistically reminiscent of ’87-’91 United States underground death metal. The major draw for this particular band beyond the usual clunky 90’s hardcore influenced shit we’ve had too much of lately is a fundamental understanding of how the hidden sophistication of mid-to-late 80’s thrash metal informed the inventive nature of death metal, the stuff that stuck could riff and wasn’t at all solely about aesthetics or grimy sound. These guys had some style in hand from the first whiff of their ‘Spoiled Marrow‘ (2019) demo tape, which I’d discovered when it was issued on 7″ by Blood Harvest in early 2020, which I’d reviewed briefly as part of a longer feature on overlooked releases. At the time the major takeaway was that the greater sphere of ‘Severed Survival’ era Autopsy and throttled Repulsion adjacent sound was the right stuff to kick their name out there with, noting that their second demo (‘Post-Natal Abortion‘, 2020) was pretty much already out and more of a brutal n’ loose affair. It was certainly louder, groovier and those two songs definitely spoke a slightly altered ‘old school’ death metal dialect than prior but much of what you’ll find on ‘Death Fugue’ relates more directly to the ideals posited on ‘Spoiled Marrow’.

Taken in as a fairly traditional, riff-heavy mid-paced death metal album it’d be easy to peg ‘Death Fugue’ as a sort of amplification of the phenomenon circa 1988. The evil-thrashing kick of (the way under-appreciated) Necrophagia‘s ‘Season of the Dead’ taken to a fresh extreme via shades of ‘Leprosy’ spark up early on via “Lead Casket” and eventually fire off some looser cannons which the band suggests are influenced by Repulsion, specifically their 1991 demo. This lines up nicely in terms of keeping it straight forward but never too obvious, shredding solos and riffs that grind just enough to represent some manner of conviction. The greater reap of ‘Death Fugue’ goes places with this sound, creating momentum rather than riding it, and in doing so avoids falling into a rut of just straight Autopsy-isms. “Escaphism” particularly stands out in my mind for its deliberate introduction and inevitable grind, somewhat similar to key tracks in the middle of Morgue‘s ‘Eroded Thoughts’, one of my personal favorite death metal albums that’d twisted each song into its own form. Even if I were to only consider the couple of tracks mentioned thus far, we’re in a good place with this record in terms of style. It isn’t an exact, perfect ratio of 80’s death metal blur and sharpened death/thrash riffing but the lead guitar work on the album makes up the difference quickly, skating close to moshable late 80’s arena thrash without getting too Jersey with thier chugs.

From my point of view the sharpest window into the maw is “On Black Wing and Foul Wind” where this slight shade of early Immolation guns its way in via the vocals to start, hitting a frantic pace while stalking between death and thrash riffs. Simple and effective yet not entirely typical works (“Ransackers of the Temple”) spread themselves thick across a relatively short, ideal length of just about 35 minutes. The density of statement, efficacy of the riffs, and the classic jogging flow of it all comes together without a hitch having bulked up considerably before the endpoint of “I Wield the Flame of Chaos” flattens me. No samples, no nonsense, no horror movie soundtrack interlude, just pure garage shaking and wide-eyed death metal horror with all manner of riffs to hold interest throughout. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (90/100)

Rating: 9 out of 10.
TITLE:Death Fugue
LABEL(S):Self-Released [Digital]
Headsplit Records, [CS, CD] TBA
Night Rhythms [LP] TBA
RELEASE DATE:March 5th, 2021 [Digital]
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death Metal,
Death/Thrash Metal

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