Norwegian band Befouled’s death metal style is said to be for fans of Dismember, Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Unleashed and At The Gates amongst others. What I experienced here was death metal at the thrashier end, with drums going thirteen to the dozen, as they blasted through these shortish cameos. I loved the rawness of the title track, the breaks, the surprising sound of the bells on “Wither Ways”. The energy and intensity cannot be denied. There’s the occasional slow down as on “Chainsaw Rituals”, which musically matches its title.

“Refuse to Rot” is not of course an album to intellectualise over. What I would say is that on the technical side, the sounds are rich and varied. This is a professional band at work with an ear for structure. “Feast on the Flesh” has an element of Amon Amarth about it by virtue of its anthemic nature. “Rest in Pieces” comes from another angle, which is commonly known as bludgeoning. It too has an irrepressible forward motion. The guitar has a withering element, as if an angle grinder has been converted into an instrument. Without doubt this adds to the imposing atmosphere of these odes to punishment. On it thunders, and as often happens with me and death metal albums, I developed an immunity to the battering, but still appreciated the guitar line on “Warpath”. The final track “Enter the Crypt” manages to weld the thrashy element with the technical side.

My guess is that Befouled bring their energy across best in a live setting. This is an accomplished death metal album, with good technical inserts. I think I needed the right setting to listen to it and infuse its fireworks and technicality, and am not sure I did that as I found myself listening to an album rather than being completely immersed in it.

(7/10 Andrew Doherty)