Sweden has quite the reputation for crusty, gruff death metal. Familiar legends like Entombed and Dismember are eternally inscribed in the brains of metalheads but they might not be as well acquainted with Vomitory, a band with a string of brutal, gory minor classics in the 1990s. Before breaking up 2011, Vomitory was signed to Metal Blade Records, so they aren’t exactly unsung heroes. Nonetheless, they are certainly still overshadowed by their more famous fellow countrymen. Two long time members of Vomitory, drummer Tobias Gustafsson and bassist/vocalist Erik Rundqvist, returned in 2015 with a new project, Cut Up, who are now releasing their sophomore album.
Cut Up are not reinventing the wheel on Wherever They May Rot. From the opening track, “From Ear to Ear”, it’s clear that this is pretty standard HM-2 drop-B worship. The guitars deliver tremolo-picked spiraling riffs while the drums pound and blast away at lightning speeds. Vocalists Erik Rundqvist and Andreas Björnson contribute standard mid-range and low growls as well as some high screams giving the album the classic death metal vomit choir sound. Cut Up certainly hasn’t lost its knack for hard-hitting music. For the first 10 minutes of the album, the music almost never lets up, not even for slow, chuggy moments. The listener is almost always in the storm of Swedish brutality spare a few brief, melodic shreds from Anders Bertilsson and Andreas Björnson here and there.
The title track arrives and allows for some slower moments, relying mostly on Tobben Gustafsson’s double bass work, some mid-paced riffing, and nice little breakdown in the middle. The album plays out exactly how one would expect archetypal a Swedish death metal record to unfold. Some other highlights include “Vermin Funeral”, a groovy headbanger with a hilarious video, and “In The Aftermath”, a more diverse and more melodic cut (no pun intended). The production on this album done by Mats Lindström avoids the typical rawer, reverb-drowned, crust-punk style on other Swedish classics from the 1990s and instead goes for a louder, more modern death metal mix typical of other heavy weights like The Black Dahlia Murder or Krisiun.
While there’s nothing wrong with the compositions or execution on this album, there is a serious lack of anything special. It’s disappointing to see Cut Up phone one in like this; Vomitory had an important place as one of the most brutal bands in the early Swedish scene, and this album seems to be imitating the imitators of that scene rather than holding its ground as a forefather. Overall, this album has too many of stretches of sameness and absolutely no innovation or other impressive qualities. It’s the ABCs of Swedish Death Metal, and that’s about it. In a year like 2017 where every week has about a month’s worth of fresh, innovative music, Cut Up fails to deliver something out of the ordinary. Fans of this niche sound will certainly enjoy it, though there are modern imitators of the Swedish sound who do a better job that Cut Up does here.