Released on Comatose Music, Friday 20 May 2022.
Before you read any further, go back and read the song titles. See if you can work out the metal sub-genre from the titles alone:
“Murderous”… “evisceration” … “embludgeonment” … “disfigurement” … “blood”
Need another clue? Take a look at the logo:
Can you read it? No? Good. It’s more of an illegible blood splatter. A pareidolia? We’ll come back to that. Welcome to the world of brutal death metal.
Speaking of blood splatter, the album cover … would it be cruel to compare it to a gorier version of that Spanish fresco of Jesus that got ‘restored’? I’m really not a big fan of this style of horror art.
Back in the mid-80s, when I first started to explore metal I listened to a lot of this style of gutteral, gurgling, wall-of-noise, assault of brutality and violence. It was fascinating to see how far the genre could be pushed, how extreme bands could take this sound before its integrity collapsed into a chaotic barrage of noise and shouting.
The late, great Chuck Schuldiner’s band Death. Napalm Death. Obituary. Morbid Angel. Pioneers of the genre. They each had a unique voice. They had something to say. There were genuine moments of brilliance that made me love this genre of extreme heavy metal.
The first of three title tracks, “Wrapped in their blood (part 1)” (track 1) opens with an atmospheric mesh of sounds and noises before crunching into a chugging riff overplayed by a female commentary about something horrific.
“Murderous intent” (track 2) takes off where the opening track ended. Gurgling, gutteral vocals and a Morbid Angel style riff that batters and pummels its way from start to finish, alternating between a full-on barrage and and slightly-less-full-on barrage.
“Nocturne of evisceration” (track 3) opens with an almost Slipknot style bass and drums groove before … that’s right gurgling, gutteral vocals and a breakneck speed assault. There are some moments of left-field creativity here. Changes of speed. Actual shouting. Synths.
By “Mutual combat” (track 4) it feels like Texas Murder Crew have shown their hand already. More of the same. One song oozing into the next. Within each track there are little moments of creative delight such as the high guitar arpeggios in this track, but it feels like too little. Every song is beginning to sound like every other song.
The production is pleasing. The guitars have enough of a crunch and weight. The drums are deep and have a good timbre. The bass rumbles along the low end while the vocals bark and growl and drown in the registers above. It’s just that apart from the various guitar squeals and scoops, “Apocalyptic embludgeonment” (track 5) sounds like the previous four tracks.
“Pareidolia (in splatter patterns)” (track 6) gave me an opportunity to reach for Wikipedia.
Pareidolia is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern, or meaning where there is none.
Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, seeing faces in inanimate objects, or lunar pareidolia like the Man in the Moon […]Wikipedia
Well, this sonic nebulous stimulus appears to me to be a brutal death metal song much in the same vein as every other song on this album. But I’m probably just imagining it. Except that “Ritual disfigurement” (track 7) had already started before I realised that we’d moved to the next track.
Remarkably, there is something about the relentless drumming and groove of “3 feet deep” (track 8) that made me pay more attention. It’s perhaps my favourite track on the release.
The album closes with “Wrapped in their blood (part 2)” (track 9) and “Wrapped in their blood (part 3)” (track 10). The former continues the female commentary over an initial creepy piano melody and paint-by-numbers riff and melts into the latter which is a full-speed onslaught in which everything in their arsenal is unleashed in an unforgiving slab of brutality.
“Vignettes of violence” is how the songs are described in the accompanying promo blurb. “Relentless slamming brutality”, “unsettling atmospheres” and “extreme savagery”. And I can’t disagree.
This debut album from the Lone Star State’s Texas Murder Crew is all of these and more. I found it an enjoyable listen. It builds on the shoulders of the giants of the genre. It has integrity and consistency, if not a unique voice. And that is maybe where this album fails a little: there is little in the way of originality or diversity. Once they get on the chugging, chuntering groove there is nothing that will derail them. For some bands that’s a good thing. I hope that is the case for Texas Murder Crew.
Review score: 70%