Back when I was really into Deathcore and shit, the band OBLIGE and their debut LP “Expectants” could do no wrong. It was heavy, aggressive, and it just pissed me right the fuck off. They had this cool Southern Groove thing going, it was mosh-friendly, and it was more than a little weight-lifting conducive. Unsurprisingly enough, the album has held up rather well over time….yep, all the way back from 2007.
Well, as the years past and the follow-up to “Expectants” never materialized like the howling behemoth I thought it would, further news that OBLIGE had indeed broken up (over a controversial bowling score no less!) had me surfing the torrents for a worthy replacement…to no avail.
Cue 2012 and the emergence of THE DEVASTATED and their full-length debut, “Devil’s Messenger.” I’m not entirely sure where guys like Caysen Russo and Cheyne Smith went off to, but vocalist Greg Wilburn, guitarist Eric Correa, drummer Andrew Holzbaur, and guitarist Manny Contreras, apparently the last known line-up of OBLIGE, are back in full force, and while THE DEVASTATED are a bit more reliant on a roar-screech vocal attack that weighs too far in favor of the grating high-end of things, the band delivers a strikingly heavy and similar crunch that has certainly whet my Deathcore appetite.
Most enjoyable is the apparent sardonic and just take-it-or-leave-it vibe “Devil’s Messenger” has going for it. THE DEVASTATED are pure grooving Deathcore and they have no fucking reservations about it. They aren’t trying to lure in the dames with clean vocals and they’re not splicing in spacey Djent madness, hyper technicality, and existentialist profundity. There’s a song called “Roof Top Panty Drop” that has some of the dumbest lyrics this side of a fratboy poetry slam, but that shit doesn’t matter. These guys simply don’t give a fuck what you think, and for that, a level of respect, or maybe just slight appreciation, is due. There’s no pretension in earshot; this is thudding, hammer-and-nails Deathcore that would just as likely spit in your face.
So, splitting the atom THE DEVASTATED aren’t doing, but that’s not to say that they haven’t manufactured a 14-track album that breathes and shits juice-monkey breakdowns, grisly vocalizations, and quasi-Nu Metal chugging (“Zombies”) that will assuredly grind the gears of your more discerning Metalhead. Truth is: these guys know what’s up, and they’re actually quite adept at creating punishing rhythms and well-rounded songs.
Similar to how OBLIGE ignited “Expectants,” THE DEVASTATED waste no time burying you in volleys of right and left hooks with the meaty opener “Drip. Drip.” and the grooving “Pseudo Smile Campaign.” On an album that does little more than bowl ahead, variation isn’t exactly an essential ingredient to the album’s success; the band chugs, spits vile and loathsome lyrics, and thunders behind a considerably bass-heavy rhythm section. But the band also has an impressive knack for creating hooks, as songs like “Failure to Thrive” and album highlight, the shit-dropping “Tongue in Cheek,” dig into your brainstem like a tick, and in quite stubborn fashion, in spite of how many times you pull on their spindly legs, you know they’re in there for good.
Fans of stop-and-go chugging/breakdown sections should find much to enjoy, as should the Deathcore crowds and dumbbell-pumping meatheads, because as far as adrenaline boosts go, this is as safe a buy as any. Tracks like “Hallowed” and “Spit Vitriol” and the album-titled “Devil’s Messenger” are all surefire examples of the type of heat THE DEVASTATED bring; it’s thick, sophomoric, rudimentary, and entirely effective as an unbridled, balls-out Metal album that masturbates long streams of fury.
Formulaic? Sure, but there probably won’t be a better Deathcore album released this year. Who knows? Maybe this sucks and I’m just biased because OBLIGE were so damn good?
(Online March 12, 2012)