SevereMutilationI always find it a good sign when you check out a CDs artwork, and feel reassured that you’re going to enjoy what you’re about to hear. Perhaps I’m easily swayed, but I have been known to purchase an album based off artwork alone in the past. More so though, I find it promising when you own 4 out of the 5 band shirts displayed by the band members on their back cover photo; it pretty much guarantees a musical affinity. Either that or you just happened to have shopped at the same place on a sale day. Anyhow, these death metal merchants from Puerto Rico sure know how to rip it up on this, their 2nd album, and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

Severe Mutilation are not your average boring brutal death metal band, they take on some of the brutality of the South Americans, while retaining the old school North American crunch and structuring. In terms of sheer riffage, I hear a lot of homages being paid to early Cannibal Corpse, ‘Harmony Corruption’ era Napalm Death, with a fruity note of Polish technicality courtesy of a gnarled Vader-like tone. The vocals aren’t as brutal as I was expecting, with no pig squeals or incomprehensible gurgles to be found. Instead, vocalist Wesley has an enjoyable range, with a fierce growl and a sub-woofer low end – all well enunciated and fairly easy to make out one hateful diatribe from the next. The whole album flows beautifully with a speedy pace that doesn’t end up sounding like a complete blur. All the songs are well structured with memorable riffage and interesting arrangements setting these guys apart from the pure blast merchants. Sure, the title track has a fair few blast beats in it, but I still could remember it after even a couple of spins. “All Respect For Life Is Lost” opens with a beastly riff which crunches slowly, pick squeals and guttural growls abound, before once again rattling into a filthy blast beat. They reach their nihilistic zenith lyrically on the almost amusingly titled “Fuck The World And Bring On The Hate”, which actually features some almost metalcore-esque breakdown moments, but to be fair, it’s not long before the guitarists and drummer are itching to start battering their instruments at a feverish pace once more – and that they do.

All of this is wrapped up in a crystal clear production job, which really helps the riffs come into their own. My only real negative here is that I felt the album was too short at 29 minutes. Sure the album is meant to be taken as a whirlwind of fury which starts, removes your face, then ends – but I just wanted a little more (which can only be a good thing I guess, certainly much better than overstaying your welcome). Check out Severe Mutilation; not just because plain old regular Mutilation isn’t enough these days, but because they are a pretty damn excellent death metal band.

(8/10 Lars Christiansen)