Band: Oxalate / Perpetuated / Blood Spore / Vivisect
Title: 4-Way Split
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Release Date: 4 September 2020
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
An ever-reliable source of underground metal, Sweden’s Blood Harvest label brings together exclusive tracks from four death metal acts, each from the USA, for the label’s latest release: “4-Way Split”. I’m partial to a bit of raw and ugly old-school death metal and when this EP first appeared on my radar I thought why not delve into some gruesome auditory depravity.
First up is New Jersey/New York’s Oxalate with “Necrotic Descent”. Opening with what appears to be a demon being summoned from the depths of hell, the music when it comes in is a brutal barrage of hammering drums, death metal riffing and deep death metal growling, underpinned by huge, rumbling bass. The production is muddy and murky (which fits the music just fine). There’s a certain no-frills primitivism to the overall sound, although it quickly becomes clear there’s some pretty high level musicianship here especially with the wild lead-guitar work that has a definite whiff of Morbid Angel guitar deity Trey Azagthoth about it. A strong opening track.
Taking things to an even rawer and more bludgeoning domain “God’s Assassins” by Washington DC’s Perpetuated, is the briefest track on the EP coming in at just under 3 minutes. The band wastes no time in launching into a churning, grinding death metal groove. Once again the vocals are a sick monstrous growl and the overall sound is dirty and murky. There’s a bit less in the way of varied riffing here as on the opening track, but it’s still a satisfying blast of death metal.
With “Dreading The Mycelial Mask” comes the first noticeable shift in style courtesy of Philadelphia’s Blood Spore (who also incidentally have the most illegible logo of all the bands here). Starting out with a slow, descending, evil sounding guitar line and an ominous stomping beat, the more polished production is immediately apparent. The vocals meanwhile are somewhere between a black metal howl and death metal growl. Gradually building with bursts of double bass pedalling and other rhythmic shifts, the band then break off into a variety of different riffs. At just under 7minutes this is the longest track on the EP. It’s a change of pace from the first two tracks, and though the track might be a little overlong the change of sound and approach adds welcome variety.
New Jersey’s Vivisect finish things off with maybe the highlight of the whole release. “Extraterrestrial Proliferations” combines notably excellent death metal drumming (full of great fills and pummelling intensity), fluid, interesting riffing, tempo changes, more deep growling vocals, and flashes of lead guitar that again bring to mind Morbid Angel. The production doesn’t quite do justice to the heaviness of the playing, but the quality of the track and the playing is clear.
And there you have it, four tracks, four up-and-coming death metal bands howling out of the underground; “4-Way Split” is a satisfying blast of sick, gruesome death metal battery. We should expect more good things to come from all of these bands. 7.5/10 Tom Boatman
7.5/10 Victory is possible
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