Somewhere, right now, the members of Incantation are looking at the rising crop of extreme metal bands and realizing their moment has finally come – Bandcamp referred to them once as death metal’s equivalent of The Velvet Underground & Nico and it’s impossible to disagree in the current moment. Belated appreciation of their form has caused an incredible new wave of death-doom. So much slow, pulverizing, creeping, grotesque death metal has come out as of late, and it’s really starting to catch the public eye. The raw, gory sound of the genre is attracting newcomers and revitalizing old lovers of the genres to pick up their guitars, downtune them into oblivion, and rip some tunes. This trend’s been building up for a good few years now, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it truly exploded from a wave into a full-on resurrection of the style.
Genocide Pact both is one of those bands and isn’t. Certainly, they have a great debt to pay to Incantation, but their sound has just as many moments that recall pre-melodic Carcass, Brutal Truth, and Bolt Thrower. They play into the American death-doom tropes -stupidly heavy riffs that often return as grim, oozing half-time beatdowns, tremolo-picked anti-melodies, and vocals drenched in reverb that suggest some terrifying and incomprehensible scope – but they also make sure that it’s not the extent of their style. For every pyroclastic creep, there’s a speedy ripper of a riff; for every moment of self-assured meatiness there’s a fight riff waiting around the next corner. Diversity in songwriting and extremity of said song are often seen as counteracting one another, but Order of Torment proves it certainly doesn’t have to be so – and, in fact, that such a view merely handicaps musicians.
Take the latter two minutes of “Structural Dissolution,” for instance: a glacially slow Goliath of a riff persists for a good minute or so, wearing down the audience, until, bam: out of fucking nowhere, in comes a 200-tempo thrasher that would have sounded perfectly placed on Altars of Madness to revitalize listeners, before it returns to a slower -but just slightly so – version of itself that utilizes tremolo picking and ride cymbals to hit like a truck. It’s intoxicating, it’s energizing, and above all, it’s fucking brutal. It’s proof that death metal is at its best when styles collide to give each trick in the genre’s book breathing room so it doesn’t ever lose its heaviness.
Special kudos also needs to be given to Order of Torment‘s production: it’s raw and alive in the way only a great mix can be. Nothing is ever hidden or buried behind anything else; each instrument has their own space and the vocals sit atop them perfectly. This is death metal we’re talking about, so a bad mix would have been far from a death knell for this album, but the excellent production job makes Order of Torment a joy to listen to even as it destroys your mind.
Genocide Pact doesn’t exactly pull out anything new per se on this record, but that’s hardly the point. The fusion of differing styles of death metal here works to give them an enormous advantage over the myriad of other bands riding the new wave of raw death metal; their ability to mark with pinpoint accuracy how and where the pieces they’re using fit together is an almost unbeatable leg up and over their peers. If you’re looking for straight-up, no-holds-barred, excellent death metal – stuff that both reaffirms the genre’s rebirth and shows everyone else how wrong they’ve been doing it – then Order of Torment is the record for you.
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Genocide Pact unleashes Order of Torment on unsuspecting fools worldwide on February 2nd through Relapse Records. You can preorder it here.