Vomitory were a band I first got blown away by when they played with Cannibal Corpse at the Camden Underworld in 2000, in support of their excellent ‘Redemption’ album. Although I stopped shelling out for their CDs some years back, for no particular reason, the band released a string of well reviewed albums until finally calling it a day in 2013. Any death metal nut will obviously be aware of this but what they may not know of is this new band featuring vocalist/bassist Erik Rundqvist and drummer Tobias Gustafsson. Joining the two death metal warriors in their latest venture are guitarists Anders Bertilsson and Andreas Björnson, the latter of whom shares vocal duties with Lundqvist. A whole group effort, ‘Forensic Nightmares’ is Cut Up’s debut effort.
‘Enter Hell’ bursts out with familiarly crunching Swedeath tones before taking off. One aspect which immediately made an impression one me was those vocals, which have a less monotone and more impacting delivery to what I recall from the last Vomitory album I bought (2004’s ‘Primal Massacre’). Musically too, there are some understandable differences. The riffs, for example, tend to exhibit some thrashier, Slayer-esque tendencies and more nuanced asides than Cut Up’s forebear used to. But there is also a contrast in how Tobias Gustafsson approaches his drum work. Without wishing to knock the relentless blasting that Vomitory gravitated towards – which was indeed crushing, here the percussion is textured and somewhat more fluid in comparison. But make no mistake, Cut Up’s music is still 100% vicious death metal. ‘Remember the Flesh’ crawls methodically like tank tracks in motion before throwing in a few more Slayer tendencies to its death metal chaos, while ‘A Butchery Improved’ can be summarised as a straight forward beating.
From the blood curdling pace of the title track to the torrential hate which is spat out on ‘Camouflesh’, there’s little to criticise. The one respect in which the album could be cited as falling down slightly however, is the fact that while there are varied dynamics within the tracks, it’s not as if any great surprises emerge once the first few have passed. And in fact the positioning of the songs – while not strictly adhering to this policy – seems to go down the fast/slow/fast/slow route, meaning that, again, there’s little that defies expectations the further in we get. On the other hand, it’s perhaps redundant to expect “surprises” on something which has been designed exclusively as a death metal beast. In this most important respect, ‘Forensic Nightmares’ cannot be argued with. The likes of ‘Stab and Stab Again’ and ‘Bunker Z16’ are brutal examples of the genre. At the end of the face-ripping former, blast-beats devastate like an out-of-control power tool, while in the latter we get a cracking bit in which the bass spits acrid fumes as the guitars give way.
With their debut, Cut Up have not sought to reinvent the death metal wheel, and frankly, why would they? The work that half this band did with Vomitory was solely dedicated to preserving brutal death metal values; a pursuit which ensured their relevance to and popularity with the death metal public for over two decades. At times, ‘Forensic Nightmares’ even comes across as an amalgamation of that band’s earlier grooving work and their more über brutal stuff. A song or two less – ‘Order of the Chainsaw’ perhaps – may have helped to avoid that slight air of predictability mentioned earlier by making the album a shorter, sharper shock. But ultimately it’s hard to imagine this not pleasing the death metal hordes with its forceful attack.