Belarus has grown to quite the extreme metal country in recent years, and on the 8th of May Satanath records brought out the latest proof of this in collaboration with Japanese Amputated Vein. Amentia plays technical death metal with a strong scent of brutal death metal (in every sense of the term). Scourge is the band’s third album, and it showcases their abilities very well. It takes technical musicians to play technical death metal, and Amentia has got them a-plenty.
Whenever I hear the genre tech-death being mentioned in connection with an album, I keep expecting Meshuggah/Yngwie Malmsteen type instrument masturbation. That is, technical and complex music being played technically and complexly somewhat for its own sake, which is something that doesn’t really lend itself to an underground music genre (also, Meshuggah and Malmsteen do have mad skills, which means they can get away with it a bit easier). In the case of Amentia, there is no trace of this. There are indeed choked back, heavy guitars hacking their way over ultra fast drums, strange melodies and the odd break, but the songs on Scourge are all solid death metal tracks. The vocals are incredibly brutal, and the deep growls connect riffs, solos and sputtering rhythmic experiments in an amazing way.
The chopped heaviness and grinding blast beats interact with clever licks and all-out solos, none of which overstay their welcome. Some of the things done here is difficult to even explain at all – the guitar work in “Sentence Executioner” is a mix of melodic horrors and the most butchered, chugging tech-death riffing you’ll hear this year. Shit is going on constantly on this one, and this is the first album I’ve heard in a long time where it wouldn’t feel entirely out of place to try to explain a segment from a song by inventing my own onomatopoeic language. For instance, the opening accompaniment of “Noble Death”: Ba ba-ba-ba ba-baba… Maybe not. Great track, though.
The bass sound is spectacular, and adds an extra dimension to the sound – imagine the bass sound from Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son being added to Cryptopsy’s or Suffocation’s heavier stuff. The production is also great. Mixing and mastering have worked in tandem to make the sound clear, with a very distinct separation of the different instruments, as is necessary in this type of death metal. More importantly: this tight, crisp production has been achieved without moving the whole thing too close to tech-death’s evil and retarded cousin deathcore. The aforementioned vocals also play a part here, of course, since no deathcore band ever had growls as awesome as this, but the guy behind the mixing table/computer deserves some extra praise for making sure that this came out the way it did.
Amentia have constructed an album which is extreme and technical, while also being surprisingly digestible. Scourge delivers violence, heaviness and plenty of complex riffing, but the combination of song-writing, the timely inclusion of attractive melodic parts and the great production means that anyone into extreme metal could and should check this out and enjoy it. The album is available on CD format and digital download from Satanath Records’ Bandcamp.