DeathcrushI guess the first and most obvious thing about these Sardinians is their Mayhem inspired moniker. If you are expecting a lesson in dangling hands and proto-black metal here though, I am afraid you will be rather disappointed. While there are some glimpses of black metal in the playing and overtly irreligious content, Deathcrush deals in something quite different on their debut album. With ten years, the odd demo and split behind them, the band must be more than pleased to finally unleash an entire record of their brutal music on metal’s underground masses.

The intro, the imaginatively titled ‘Into the Abyss of Sickness’, initially betrays little with its otherworldly chattering and chasmic beams of noise. But then the music works its way in, dry sounding and almost black metal with tight riffs over a barrage of nuanced drumming. ‘Asphyxiated by Disgust’ follows with standard blast-beats, metronomic double bass and then a riff which truly takes off. As vocalist/bassist Luigi Cara’s throaty roars emerge, it quickly becomes apparent that the guitar work is the ferocious force of the band, with a dynamic amalgamation of thrash, brutal death and black metal. There’s not a great deal of discernible bass but a cool feel nonetheless, as those persistent blasts and quick fills prove the perfect foil for the riffs. Another aspect worth mentioning is the screaming which rises up behind Cara’s normal delivery, to add further dimension to the mix. But it really is all about those merciless string machinations, which drag you helplessly along – like the ones leading into the solo on ‘Total Misanthropic Sick'(…).

By track four, ‘Furious Murder Art’, the template for the album is pretty much set: demonic vocals, razor sharp riffs and slower, pummeling excursions into fiery atmosphere (which would truly be pummeling with a richer production). While numerous techniques are worked in as the album unfolds – which I’ll go into in more detail – I can imagine the well-worn subject matter and relentless compositions turning off people who detest the likes of, say, Deicide. For those who like their metal hateful and raging, however, the walls of jagged riffing and hammering drums should do the job. And getting to those flashes of something extra, pinch harmonics a la Cannibal Corpse rear their head in the tale of the ‘Venomous Priest of Deception’ (what a conniving bugger…). In ‘Devoured’, we get another bit of Cannibal styling with creepy guitar lines and even a hint of vintage Slayer soloing later in the same track. Elsewhere, the moody atmosphere on ‘Slaves of Hypocrisy’ and winding riffs of demo track ‘Necrogod Devastation’ also mix things up a bit.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is the bit in ‘Devoured’ where the bass actually pops up to be heard for a few seconds. As stated earlier, the production could have benefited from a bit more clarity in that department, and at 40 minutes long the belligerent musical formula is maybe close to exhausting itself. But for the most part, ‘Collective Brain Infektion’ does keep the adrenaline pumping and, overall, can be classified as an entertaining album.

(7.5/10 Jamie)