Devourment is a band that has achieved superstar status within the brutal death community, due more to their vocalist Ruben Rosas and the disgustingly offensive nature of their lyrics then any real songwritingn ability. The band's disography is quite fragmented, with Molesting The Decapitated being their only full-length release with the classic lineup amidst a smid of various demos and compilations. So, how does Devourment's breakdown-blast-repeat style fare in a full-length album? Surprisingly well, actually.
Molesting The Decapitated is a short, simple album that follows a very strict formula in the songwriting department, and as a result most of these songs do very little to make themselves distinct from one another. Normally, for me at least, this would be a big hindrance in my enjoyment of the album, but Devourment does what they do so well its really hard to nock them for it. This band is credited for creating the subgenre-within-a-subgenre-within-a-subgenre called "slam death", an offshoot of brutal death metal that basically turns down the vocals even more in pitch and writes whole songs based around the breakdowns that pioneer Suffocation made famous. The guitars and bass are ludicrously downtuned and heavy, the drums alternate between slow and blast and the vocals...well, we'll get to them later.
As I said before, the songs all basically sound the same, with very little in the way of hooks to set them apart, and NO solos or leads whatsoever. Despite this, they are extremely fun to listen to. The riffs are slow and chugging and just fucking cool, and in spite of the fact that they are just a bunch of breakdowns spliced together, the songs really seem to flow well. The lyrics are just as gross and unspeakable as you would expect given the cover art and track titles, and the songs (and album as a whole) seem to be a good length, with "Postmortal Coprophagia" being the only one that drags on a little bit.
This brings us to the only element of Molesting The Decapitated that I felt really sets it apart from its countless peers-the vocals. Bear in mind that I don't listen to that much brutal death metal (although plenty of death in general), but Ruben Rosas's vocals are by far the deepest and most guttural I have ever heard, and WITHOUT A PITCHSHIFTER! The first time you hear these vox, your jaw will hit the floor. The vocals are actually almost so low that they lose any heaviness whatsoever, as a lot of time it seems like you are hearing the vibrations from his throat, which remind me somewhat of a chirping cricket, more then the actual growls he was making. However, like the rest of the band, these vocals just sound so damn COOL. I can't think of a better fit for vocalist for this band, and I think that the new vocals in Butcher The Weak (released in 2005) are the main reason that album failed to deliver.
Its hard to pick album highlights, but I would have to say opener "Festering Vomitous Mass", which starts with a sample clip of an interview with a schizophrenic serial killer that begins the album on the perfect note, "Choking On Bile", "Self Disembowelment", and closer "Shroud Of Encryption" as my favorites. Flaws? Well, the production could be better, as during the blast sections I really can't make out what the hell is coming from the guitars. Also, it seems like they overtriggered the drums in some places, as I absolutely refuse to believe that the now infamous blast sections in "Choking On Bile" were made without mechanical assistance-its just not possible. Also, I think it would have been cool to hear a guitar lead everynow and again, as the pounding bass-only sound gets tiresome sometimes.
Ultimately, if you can accept Molesting The Decapitated for what it is, you'll have a hell of a time with it. I see bands like Devourment as the death metal version of rap; basic, unintelligent, uniform, and perfect for some good, mindless listening. Oh yeah, and its heavy as fuck. This is the perfect album to play at high volumes in the car with the windows down-not only is it a blast to play while driving, but you will surely get some amusing stares from pedestrians. Go ahead and pick this up.
A VERY strong release with enough slamming brutality to flatten K2
I’ve come to love Devourment so much that around the time of the new year, I decided that Unleash the Carnivore just wasn’t enough anymore; I needed more Devourment! I looked up some other reviews on Devourment’s other two albums and chose the one that got higher scores, Butcher the Weak. Just so that people don’t think I’m a disrespectful bastard, I know about the unfortunate passing of the man whose vocals appear on this album. But this review isn’t at all a tribute to him. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way (hopefully), let’s go into an analysis of this crushing record. The first thing that I would tell anyone about Butcher the Weak is that it has a lot less faults than Unleash the Carnivore, but its strengths aren’t quite enough to surpass the following release. I can see how a lot of people can find this album more devastatingly brutal than Unleash the Carnivore, because of the way the album was produced and how everything sounds. When you look at the music, Unleash the Carnivore’s underlying sound slams much, much harder.
But remember, brutality isn’t everything (although some people are very picky and critical when it comes to brutality, especially the “slam death” fans). I’m not going to stress the amount of brutality that Devourment is capable of dropping on you because I go on about that in my review of Unleash the Carnivore. I both agree and disagree with the statement that this album is much more slamming than Unleash the Carnivore because it all depends on how you look at it and from what perspective you’re listening to the music in. If you focus on the pitch levels, there are a lot more high-pitched tones on everything in Butcher than in Carnivore (which has next to none at all). As well as that, the drums sound VERY mushy in Unleash the Carnivore, which makes the music sound smoother and less bombarding (unless you turn the volume up). Just by saying that, I’m assuming that you can guess that Butcher is the opposite; the cymbals are more in the background and the china cymbals don’t dominate EVERYTHING.
The random quotes/recordings that a lot of these brutal death bands seem to put in some of their songs (primarily at the beginning) can be REALLY interesting and memorable. Probably one of my favorites is from the title track of this album where this guy says “the dead won’t bother you; it’s the living you have to worry about.” As weird as that may seem, I’ve rarely heard so much truth in a quote like that. Right after he says that quote, you are met with an explosive bombardment of slamming brutality similar (but less extreme) to that of the opening track on Unleash the Carnivore. I’m going to be honest and say that I like the vocals on Unleash the Carnivore MUCH better than the ones on this album. The vocals aren’t as deep and are instead more of a pig-squeal styled inhaled growl.
Here’s what I LOVE about this album: THE DRUMMER IS AMAZING! In Molesting the Decapitated, the drumming repeatedly drifted out of tempo and were extremely repetitive. So this right here is evidence of a major improvement in the percussion section. The drummer does slip up a few times with his kick drums, but it’s almost unnoticeable after you add on the technically creative splurs that he has going on with everything else. So you take this, increase the speed, increase the chaos, and increase the bass, and you get the drums on Unleash the Carnivore. The songs on this album aren’t any less repetitive than the ones on Unleash the Carnivore, but the songs differ from each other much more. So at least there’s more uniqueness to each individual song, but there’s still some repetition going on. But in all of Devourment’s albums, the drums are NEVER repetitive; they’re the molten core keeping the music turning.
Devourment is one of the biggest bands in the “slam death” community and has even reached a considerable amount of popularity in the less underground brutal death scene. I discovered these guys after seeing their logo on the shirt of the vocalist for Cerebral Bore. This is a VERY strong release and has enough slamming brutality to flatten K2. I wouldn’t recommend this to people that aren’t very particular to the REALLY brutal death stuff, but if you think you can handle the brutality, feel free to listen to it because it’s good! I would give Butcher the Weak 17/20.
The video below shows just how crushing their performances are...well, with a much smaller crowd than what you would see at their shows today.