Though they’d formed as early as 1988 and were putting out tapes and records soon after, the hyper-active boon of death metal worldwide would never grant the original decade-long run from Killing Addiction more than cult demigod status in terms of the most classic Florida death metal reality, or, hindsight for it at least. This has always been a shame because much like Rottrevore and Morpheus Descends they’d represented a more ‘worldly’ swath of brutal consciousness for United States death metal in the early 1990’s, bringing a mélange of European death metal weirdness into their otherwise classic thrash borne function early on. Sure, we can recall their early legacy as a half-step generation beyond the originals but more importantly, bands like this one represent inspired fans with worldly taste ingrained into their music, and far less of the caustic egotism we’d see in early acts as they became dry-aging rockstars. We find the best traits of true underground death metal in Killing Addiction‘s past, imaginative surrealism and existentially damning brutality adhered in such a way that it’d felt natural and far beyond the increasingly mined structures of early Florida death metal. Consequently, this second full-length from the band 28 years beyond is no less brutal, no less surreal, and no less classically weirding. With ‘Mind of a New God‘ we take a trip through the volatile, coldly murderous and unimaginable realm of Killing Addiction not for the sake of stumbling through pure nostalgia but in transcendence of rose-colored detritus and again from the technicolor void from whence they’d spawned.
You’ve heard similar stories before, eh. From 1988 ’til 1998 this Ocala, Florida-based band were entirely consistent: Solid riffs, increasingly complex arrangements, excellent horror/sci-fi themed art, and a brutal streak that felt right in line with what’d come before them or… at least “with a twist” since they’d for sure listened to some British and Swedish death metal by then. Their first demo ‘Legacies of Terror‘, 1990) was probably their most thrash influenced work but still clearly starting out in the realm of death metal, not as sophisticated as Amon‘s demos but pulling from similar influences and landing a few truly brutal hits along the way; I’ll more or less keep emphasizing this sense of brutality inherent to Killing Addiction‘s sound but keep in mind I mean “brutal” closer to what the early New York death metal scene was putting out prior to ‘Effigy of the Forgotten’, not necessarily slamming but hitting harder than the death/thrash of the late 80’s and bellowing, gurgling deep rather than rasping. Anyhow, their first EP is legendary at least within my circle due to its satisfyingly raw sound, spastic performances, and association with the infamous Seraphic Decay label. I’ve definitely come across folks who consider ‘Necrosphere‘ some kind of early space-grind or whatever but I see it as some of their Carcass influence meeting with the brutal death metal available back in 1990. Stop me if I’ve already gone over this early history, I think I’d brushed over most of it for the 2018 remaster of ‘Omega Factor‘ (1993). That album was a meaningful extension of the ideas found on ‘Necrosphere’ and at this point we could accuse Killing Addiction of existing in a headspace far away from local scene pandering. Putting out a solid and fairly original record with the (then) on fire stable of JL America bands (Morpheus Descends, Malicious Onslaught, Deteriorate, etc.) meant also getting lost in the fray and to time when the label collapsed in 1994.
Not the first death metal classic left in the dirt by the unfortunate realities of the music industry by any means and a record that’d thankfully gotten its due when properly resurrected and remastered (see: my review). Though Killing Addiction would split up in 1998 the band would pick it all back up in 2006 and soon release ‘Fall of the Archetypes‘ (2010) and I think the most interesting aspect of this release is that it was still them but hey, clearly Chris York‘s drumming had kept up with the times and not missed out on some of the slap of the 2000’s. The band would ultimately release three three EPs (one a single) ’til the untimely death of original co-guitarist Chad Bailey (R.I.P.) in 2016 just a few weeks prior to the release of the ‘Shores of Oblivion‘ EP where the band had found a medium between ominous harmonized leads and their brutal sound, edging in heavier grooves. Here we get the sort of archetype for what ‘Mind of a New God’ is today via brutality, tension, technical yet melodic leads, and the sort of grooves that catch the ear off guard with their momentum. Though there is obviously some sentimental devastation in mind when approaching this record it’s sound and style are nothing less than empowered, thrillingly classic in approach yet meeting a timeless standard of precision and free-movement we’d heard in their stuff back in the early 90’s. This is less a “we’ve still got it” statement and more a chance to show what Killing Addiction have always been about on a larger, most refined scale.
When I talk about tension in death metal I am more than likely speaking to a sense of call-and-response within a progression, a mechanism of hoist and gravitas that returns with intensity or force. The more elastic the return the more tension built within a vacillating but sensical guitar composition and in this sense Killing Addiction‘s guitar work has equal insight into early New York death metal scene’s percussive setup yet a sound that will recall Brutality more than anything else. They develop fairly straight forward guitar themes from this auld high standard and elaborate upon them in ways that tend towards physicality and directness, often zooming in with speed to double up on a phrase or dart out a dual-solo run to bring the “unexpected” ferality of early United States death metal from whence they came back into view. This is probably only slightly more sophisticated than their early 90’s material on paper but we get more variety in terms of illustrative guitar runs and slower, more atmospheric build-ups in certain songs. You’ll hear shades of late 90’s Morbid Angel in a few songs (“Destroyer of Worlds”) but it is worth emphasizing that this is more or less what this band has sounded like beyond 1992; They’ve arguably warped how it all blends together considerably over the years but, not unto an unrecognizable state, rather a most readable and intentional iteration beyond. This means we’ll still get hints of appreciation of the orderly, spastic momentum found in early 90’s Carcass throughout this record but this is just one small part of their sound and less a tribute or imitation. In fact you’ll hear more bold experimentation with grooves and tensile movement on this album than most of their interim EP work up to this point, such as “Lives Unworthy of Life” a piece that slows itself down and ensures the listener is paying attention to where they’re headed. The generally represents a fine blend of new ideas and characteristic movements that mix well enough that these guys still sound like Killing Addiction but do not feel too directly evocative of other bands, nor do they presage any major change in the future. If we must call it a “comeback” record then yes, ‘Mind of a New God’ sounds like the same band that put out ‘Omega Factor’ but with three decades of evolution informing their current nucleotides.
The promise of a “classic” styled death metal album from our eld mutant-kind translates into “they’ve got riffs” and catchy ones at that in this case. I’d found some of the simpler, groove-centric pieces stood out first as I became familiar with this album; Some will be obvious from the first listen, I mean who doesn’t want to sit down and try to play “The Chaos Older Than Time” on guitar after hearing it? It sounds Eldritch as all hell as it wheels out. Any emphasis on groove is rarely appreciated on my part so, they’ve worked this crucial element of classic death metal into good form on this song and most others. Another major highlight is “As Utopia Burns” which conjures a handful of ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious’ in its midst, reinforcing strong traits shared between Killing Addiction then and now. Finally, I’d say “Condemned to Nothingness” is my favorite track in terms of guitar arrangement, maybe I’m a sucker for these most classic tricks of ‘brutal’ death riffcraft but this song consistently pulled me all the way into the second half of the record. In the course of three weeks of listening I’d found myself leaving ‘Mind of a New God’ on for 3-4 listens in a row each time I approached it — Not only because it is a solid, complex-yet-uncomplicated listen with a grand sense of long-developed style but because it loops back into itself well enough that I’d just as well get another ride out of it. There is plenty of idiosyncratic value here beyond legacy and well, my own fandom. Fans of ‘old school’ death metal who haven’t avoided the last two decades of differentiation and mutation will find an ancient but evolved form within ‘Mind of a New God’ and ideally go back and discover their well-hidden set of EPs leading up to this work, which provide essential provenance for the last three decades of Killing Addiction. A very high recommendation.
|TITLE:||Mind of a New God|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 1st, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.