With the multitude of forms and shapes the genre has mutated into over the years one needs the occasional kick in the cajones to remind one that the chief purpose of Death Metal is to maim and mangle. Now in their 22nd year of existence, Spain’s AVULSED are no doubt among the granddaddies of the genre, and it’s heartening to see them still dishing out the hurt with gore-filled glee.
Full disclosure: I haven’t really been an active follower of the band’s career, having last checked them out back in the “Stabwound Orgasm” days. Not much has changed in terms of their sound however, with the most discernible change being the relative absence of the mid-paced grooves found on “Eminence in Putrescence”. In its place is a helpful serving of (subtle) melody and the occasional foray into slower dirge-filled territory, but the primary ingredient remains no-nonsense Death Metal that walks a fine line between the Florida and Stockholm variants of the genre.
The alternation between straight ahead blasting and more melodic moments affords the album a great sense of variety, but the downside is that the guys haven’t really incorporated the different elements of their sound as tightly and coherently as I would’ve liked. They either stick to one or the other, with only a few songs really imbued with both. This gives the first half of the album a slightly schizophrenic feeling, as the tentative melodic and moody dynamic of “Dead Flesh Awakened” crashes wildly into the chaotic brutality of “Z-Hunter”, before “...Was not My Blood” and “Horrified by Repulsion” bust out that patented Swedish buzz-saw guitar sound, part-DISMEMBER, part-DERANGED. It’s played well, as one would expect from these veterans, but it feels a bit too incoherent in a way. A strange instrumental even rears its head, sounding like a wispy piano reverie lifted straight from OPETH’s “Blackwater Park”.
They finally manage to get all their ducks in a row during the latter half of the album, hitting a brutally intense stride with “Unborn of the Undead” and riding it out gloriously until the fading seconds. They kick up quite a storm when they unleash the thrashier and (somewhat) groovier elements of their sound, and I especially liked the dual growl/sneer approach on “Unborn of the Undead”. “Brainsuck” follows in similar fashion, and their cover of DEATH’s “Zombie Ritual” is expertly handled. When they put their heads down they are an all-purpose killing machine, which makes me wish that the first half had more tracks like these on it. In spite of this “Ritual Zombi” is still a good album, just not a great one. Excellent cover art, though!
(Online September 9, 2013)