Released on Comatose Music on Friday 1 July 2022.
You know when the press release for an album begins with a quotation from infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer that you’re not in for 20 minutes of easy listening.
“It’s a process; it doesn’t happen overnight, when you depersonalize another person and view them as just an object. An object for pleasure and not a living breathing human being. It seems to make it easier to do things you shouldn’t do.”— Jeffrey Dahmer
Between the Killings is a new voice in brutal death metal, pulling together current and former members of Horrific Demise, Gorgasm, Lividity, Colossus, Mortal Decay and Rupture Christ to create a disturbing collection of aural assaults that take you deep into the warped mind of a relentless killer. This EP will strike like a hammer to the skull.
But it is a hammer that will keep on striking. This is the first of four EPs, each expanding on the tale of a serial killer, each accompanied by a graphic comic bringing the twisted tale to life, all artwork created by Karl Dahmer (Nunslaughter, Exhumed, Gutalax etc).
Not since listening to “Dead Skin Mask” from Slayer’s 1990 LP Seasons in the Abyss have I felt so unsettled by an opening to a song. “A violent proclamation” opens with a gentle, haunting melody that reminds me of the opening of Face Down’s 1995 album Mindfield. But it is soon joined by the disturbing whimpering of a woman and the horrific whisperings of her tormentor. This is a promisery note of things to come.
“Invoked” (track 2) employs all the characteristics of brutal death metal: metronomic drumss, thrashing guitars, gurgling vocals and disturbing solos. The lyrics are incomprehensible, but you get the gist: violence.
The following track, “From interest to obsession” (track 3), picks up where the last left off. It’s more of the same. Battered snare drum and double kick, buzzing guitars and deep, throaty vocals providing wave after wave of churning death metal.
A slight change of pace for “Contrivance” (track 4) which twists and turns providing some particularly nice guitar work and dynamics. Sometimes death metal is like staring at a magic eye picture—it’s only after you’ve emersed yourself in it for a while and relaxed that you can notice the details and the picture emerges.
“Overwhelmed in neuroticism” (track 5) returns us to the path that tracks 2 and 3 started us along with the gurlging-sink vocals providing more of a sonic texture than a clear literary description of events. The song builds to a very pleasing gallop that is interrupted by the frantic and violent drumming and vocal cacophony.
“A violent ending” (track 6) closes the EP with the Dahmer quotation read presumably by the man himself.
From an artistic point of view, this is a very well executed collection of brutal death metal tracks, but I have some reservations.
First, while there is real drama and depth and atmosphere in the opening track, I felt that if the goal was to take us deep into the mind of a killer, this was was lost somewhat by the incomprehensible nature of the lyrics. and the relentless wall-of-sound nature of the music. What makes this stand out from other extreme death metal releases? I felt that they’d somehow missed a trick—the EP opens brilliantly but then gets lost in the swirling violence of the musical bombardment that follows. It feels less like the focused work of a killer than the indiscriminate violence of aerial carpet bombing.
Second, it is maybe also worth asking the question, why did it need to be a woman’s voice crying in the opening track? Isn’t there enough horror and violence portrayed against women in the media? While I’m sure it is not intended, this does run the risk of being portrayed as yet another example of unconsciously misogynistic violence. I do hope that parts two to four re-dress that balance.
Review score: 70%
Imperative PR contacted me inviting me to preview Between the Killings forthcoming album, which I was delighted about.
I have no connections to either Imperative PR or Between the Killings. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.
Many thanks to Imperative PR, and to Between the Killings for continuing to create fresh and extreme death metal.