Comprised of ex members of misanthropic black metallers Svarttjern, death metallers Bloodspawn and power metallers Frail Grounds, the mixing pot here is a strange one, but the result of this conglomeration of styles sticks resolutely within the realm of death metal with heavy thrash influences. Brutal and bludgeoning from the outset, the debut album from Repulsive Aggression attempts to combine bleak hatred with outright destruction, with predictably vicious results.
Opening track ‘Necrosis’ kicks things off with the sort of chugging, downtuned guitar that you would expect from Fear Factory before things kick into high gear with a tearaway riff reminiscent of Hypocrisy’s ‘Time Warp’. Nødset’s drumming is devastatingly precise as expected, so leaving Holter’s vocal to be the weak link in the chain. The initial problem is that it is drowned in the mix, however the vocal style itself lays somewhere between death metal and grindcore, and as a result the lyrics sound burped rather than growled, roared or shrieked. Things improve on ‘Plaguebringer’ and ‘Sub Human Destruction’ as the slightly less frenetic pace allows the vocals to penetrate through the mix and give room to express more than a generic bark, and it’s quite unusual to find that a band of this style are most effective when the pace is slowed down slightly.
One thing that remains obvious throughout is that the musicianship, whilst not being of the highest technical quality, is more than adequate and things remain interesting on the riff front throughout. Changes of style are welcome on tracks such as ‘Predator’ and the slightly southern bluesy sound of ‘Repulsive Aggression’. Musically though, the band seem to find their level on ‘Reborn Through Annihilation’, which starts out as a brooding chugging leviathan before rising forth in bursts of speed and force designed to obliterate anything in its path. It’s clearly the standout track of the album and also features a very tidy and well placed solo, going against the bludgeoning path of the rest of the material, although that itself pales in comparison with the solo on ‘Leave Her To Rot’, which really gives a teaser as to how good this album may had been were they slightly more adventurous with the composition.
Repulsive Aggression manage to live up to their name quite literally, with the aggression aspect ably catered for by the musicianship to a level that, whilst not outstanding, certainly has the ability to get the head nodding away and foot tapping. The repulsion comes from the vocals, not through being bad, but being bland. Throughout the entire album Holter barely changes pace or pitch, so whilst his voice may certainly have the nastiness required for the style, the monotony severely detracts from the songs on offer, making ‘Conflagration’ an album that will pass you by as background noise rather than grab you by the throat and force you to take notice. A shame really, as this is not a million miles away from being something really very entertaining.
(6.5/10 Lee Kimber)