Devourment have been lashing out their own brand of Texan death metal since 1995 and have experienced enough internal turmoil, break ups, line-up shuffles and reformations to make a boy-band blush. Alongside Internal Bleeding and Dying Fetus, Devourment have been praised with putting the “slam” into death metal—a useless term to signify that this band have the penchant for dropping slamming breakdowns like H-bombs—and have rode the “brutal” descriptor ragged since the release of their charmingly titled and sonically debilitating debut, Molesting the Decapitated. Side-stepping the band’s colourful history, Devourment—Mike Majewski (vocals), Ruben Rosas (guitars), Chris “Captain Piss” Andrews (bass) and Eric Park (drums)—are now set to release their fourth full-length and Relapse debut Conceived in Sewage on the 19th of February, 2013.
It’s been four years since the release of Devourment’s last record, Unleash the Carnivore, and in that time deathcore has sprung into public consciousness with its mind-numbing mix of hardcore and death metal. Since 2009, there has also been a significant increase in death metal bands looking to push the technical aspects of this foul genre to brain-frazzling levels, as well gore-sodden degenerates intent on stretching bad taste to its breaking point. But what the majority of these modern death metal bands seem to forget in their efforts to shock and repulse is that Deicide, Death, Autopsy, Morbid Angel et al wrote songs. Sickeningly catchy, technically adept and lyrically grotesque songs. And with Conceived in Sewage, Devourment have delivered a record that is a direct reaction to all the deathcore fakers, in that, they have changed the focus of their songcraft away from “slams” and have written actual songs.
Sure this may frustrate fans looking to lose bowel function to breakdowns, but if you observe what Devourment are trying to accomplish here—something similar to the latter murderworks of Cannibal Corpse—it’s clear that this record is carefully planned out. Obviously maturity is not a pre-requisite for death metal, but concise, memorable songwriting is and for the most part Conceived in Sewage has this by the slop-bucket full. Given the power of an Erik Rutan production, Devourment rely less on technicality than most death metal braggarts, instead their music is made to cause blunt force trauma with each bludgeoning riff and blast sutured together for maximum maceration. The mangled fluidity of the first three song: “Legalize Homicide”, “Fifty Ton War Machine” and “Conceived in Sewage”, move forward purposefully with the title track’s mauling opening riffs and ferocious ending being a definite highpoint. And although there are much more vibrant vocalists in death metal, the percussiveness of Majewski’s delivery—his rhythmic gutturals sound like he is gargling raw meat—on the weirdly titled “Fucked With Rats” and the surprisingly catchy “Today We Die, Tomorrow We Kill” compliment the malignant grooves to no end.
Devourment are not pushing into any uncharted death metal terrains with Conceived in Sewage—they did that in the past—but the band’s refusal to rely on deathly breakdowns (there are still a few choice examples found within), no matter how effective a tool it can be, is commendable considering they were one of the originators. Sure some songs (“Heaving Acid” / “Parasitic Eruption”) are indistinguishable, but for the most part this record sweats malice in a straightforward, pulverizing kind of way. Conceived in Sewage is a chainsaw to the face of deathcore’s fleeting popularity. There is nothing “trendy” to be found here, just a bunch of death metal veterans throwing down songs instead of slams.