‘Age of Perversion’ is Offending’s second album, and exhibits a number of French musicians whose backgrounds are predominantly rooted in black metal. Coming from Deepsend though – the same label which recently introduced me to the enjoyable Deadly Remains – I was more than optimistic that Offending would be more than capable of creating a cacophony of brutality. And indeed they are. Though unlike their label mates, I would say that this band has older influences such as Deicide, Sinister, Suffocation and Gorguts at its putrefying heart.

Speaking of the aforementioned Dutch cult, ‘Infested By His Burden’ (un)eases the listener into Offending’s nightmare with a sinister riff repeated over and over above some drums which join in to complete the atmosphere. Somehow I am reminded of the sound on Akercocke’s ‘Goat of Mendes’ CD as these opening bars tease and intimidate from a distance. When things get going, however, there is little mistaking which way this band’s bread is buttered. Evoking the feel of early 90s brutal death metal, a mix of fast, technical and discordant parts provide the clattering blow that you expect. Ensuring that things don’t become lost in a blur of such techniques, the musicians even things out with a clear devotion to the essence of crushing, quality death metal, “the way it used to be made”. Spiralling, extravagant solos, for instance, never eclipse the weight of the band’s crushing goal. And unusually (in my recent experience at least) there are no hardcore tendencies creeping in at the expense of undiluted death metal.

What is particularly well pulled-off by the musicians in the band is the ability to change tempos in an engaging way: from groovy to pummelling and brooding to blasting, although never in any predictable order. If I were to compare Offending’s music to a character type, it would be the sort who calmly lurks in the shadows awaiting a random victim to jump out at and mutilate. Then again, maybe it’s just the photos of vocalist, Jesus ‘The Butcher’, which have inspired this impression. I’m sure he’s really a big softy at heart… But yes, relative comfort zones are established for the listener throughout the album, before unexpected bludgeoning or speed tears out from some quarter or other. Even ‘Religion Depravity’, at just two-and-a-half minutes long (and by far the shortest track on offer) is not immune from a couple of violent bursts of speed. For me, this entire record is a high-point, culminating in a keyboard-led instrumental, which intelligently (Immolation-ishly©) offsets the previous eight tracks of monstrously brutal death metal.

This is recommended for fans of those older bands already mentioned but would surely be equally as appealing to disciples of more technical bands like Cryptopsy or latter-day Vital Remains. ‘Age of Perversion’ is death metal with conviction, great ideas and brilliant execution. Enough said.

(8.5/10 Jamie Wilson)