Wombripper - From the Depths of Flesh - (8/10)
Published on July 4, 2018
If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, the early Swedish death metal bands must feel like some of the most flattered bands in extreme metal. There seems to be an endless sea of Swedeath clones, many of them capturing the HM-2 tone and not much else that made the early 90s such a special time for death metal. Russia’s Wombripper is as derivative in terms of approach as they come, but their debut album From the Depths of Flesh is a great example of taking a well-worn style and keeping it fresh.
Everything about From the Depths of Flesh screams early Swedeath. The HM-2 tone, Daniil Kuskov’s throaty, barked vocals, and the punchy drums courtesy of Andrey Petrov will all be instantly recognizable to anyone who has spent any time at all bands like Entombed or Dismember. However, there is a raw, raucous energy to From the Depths of Flesh that many retro acts can’t quite capture, lending the album a manic intensity that is also in line with acts like Nihilist and Carnage. Wombripper goes straight to the source when it comes to their influences; this is Swedeath before any polish or refinement and well before any death ‘n’ roll influences reared their head.
Much of the reason why From the Depths of Flesh doesn’t feel stale is the quality of the riffs. Of course, they have the requisite crushing tone, but their high-octane energy is infectious, propelled by a truly furious drum performance and some finely crafted melodic leads. The band’s grasp of dynamics is also solid, as they mix in some mid-pace pummeling sections that smartly compliment the angry blasting. The album’s slowest, doomy sections are my personal favorite, including the intro to “Prenatal Death” and the monstrous doom/death midsection of “Godless Slaughter.” The latter track also features some guest vocalists which provide a bit of vocal diversity and are strongly reminiscent of Martin Van Drunen’s work in Asphyx.
From the Depths of Flesh’s flaws are rather minor. Four of the album’s tracks were also on splits and demos, meaning a good chunk of the album is not new material. In terms of production the drums and vocals are a little too upfront and overpowering. The band’s lyrics, from what I can gather, are in rather poor English-they’re not quite Lectern level of hilariously bad, but they’re not that far off either. It’s difficult to say for certain however, since they’re largely indecipherable.
From the Depths of Flesh is an impressive first album. It contains enough riffs and explosive energy to do more than pay homage to its influences, providing a respectable addition to the genre’s extensive catalog.