It appears that the best kept death metal secret on the south coast of the UK is called Subservience and has three EPs out plus a split and having listened to the EPs on the band’s bandcamp page it is clear that their learning curve has been very short indeed. The band’s last effort “Upheaval” was a formidable slab of old school gutturalness out in 2014 which makes the lapse in any release during the intermittent years a little puzzling but the wait has been worth it.
Listening to those EPs you can hear the improvement in song writing, musicianship and increasing brutality that culminates in this debut that opens with “In Depravity They Dwell” that hacks chunks of flesh via the guitar sound which is of the bone sawing variety. There is a Swedeath noxiousness to this album as the song unleashes a bombarding double kick barrage towards the end of the song leaving no doubt that this album is going to leave permanent indelible damage. The tuneful guitar that starts “Beneath The Earth” is very Dismember like, but not cloned as that double bass barrels in again to great effect only for it to relent slightly ready for the vocals to vomit forth with a very slight delay and echo to good effect as though sang in a cold stone clad musty mausoleum, if that makes any sense. “A Taste For Violence” begins with a piercing riff before unleashing borderline blasting ferocity that is unbelievably catchy once the song settles into a groove infested riff fest.
I absolutely love the guitar sound on this album and whilst the buzz saw guitar tone is a little clichéd and used by hordes of bands the world over Subservience have made it their own by shifting the song writing into their own style and not duplicating the Swedeath style like a lot do. Case in point is “Entity Of Indifference” which has the Swedeath muscly riffing but takes the song into a different avenue by injecting it with sinister atmosphere by deploying eerie bass work and haunting guitar hooks. Pulverising and pounding with rancorous fetidness “Desperation” is a slow strangulation of pumping bass riffing linked to a blackened like riffing structure especially when the song abruptly hits a blast phase momentarily. Starkly different is the albums finale “Descend Into Despair” which begins with a piano, that sounds like it should be on an old Hammer Horror movie, which funnily enough I’ve been watching recently, as a guitar riff saunters into the song accompanied by the thundering drum work. The riff increases in tone, along with the vocals which add their dimension of malevolence but still keeping the song within a doom death pace initially until the riff break which punctuates the song ready for the surge in speed. Fluxing continually the song has a pervading ethos of dread interspersed with outright episodes of terror as the song and album closes with the piano that started the song.
Subservience plunge the listener into a world of unassailable terror, wreaking crippling riffs amidst a besieging drum assault and strafing bass runs, this band are subordinate to no one.
(9/10 Martin Harris)