Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nunslaughter - Angelic Dread

Titans of the death metal underground, Nunslaughter have been churning out primitive, ugly death metal since the late '80s. In June, the band released their newest full-length Angelic Dread.

Nunslaughter have followed kind of a weird release pattern throughout their career. When you hear that a death metal band formed in 1987 but only has four full-length albums at present, the first impulse is to assume they broke up or went on hiatus for years. Nunslaughter have been around the whole time, though. It's just that, instead of releasing regular albums, the band has spewed forth a deluge of demos, splits, EPs, and live recordings for decades. By the time they released their first full album in 2000 they had already produced several albums worth of material. Since then, they've actually stepped up their rate of production significantly. In 2014 alone they have already released three splits, three live albums, and three EPs in addition to this full studio album.

Their music all tends to fall into the same niche, and this is no exception. Nunslaughter play fast, aggressive, primitive, hateful death metal that's as fixated on anti-Christianity as a band could get. As usual, this is dark and mean and intense. Relatively simple riffs are flailed out so maniacally that it seems they couldn't get any more complex without causing the guitarist to collapse. The drums bash away, adding to the din without ever getting very complex or sophisticated either. There are tempo changes, and at times the music settles into more of a slow, rolling Incantation-esque gait, but that never lasts for very long. It's a double album, with a total of thirty-one songs. In all that material, only two tracks clock in at more than three minutes long, and both of them are well under four minutes. So unlike me, Nunslaughter get straight to the point.

Finally, the real energy behind the band is the rabid vocal work of sole-constant-member Donald "Don of the Dead" Crotsley. His manic delivery and palpable hated of seemingly everything (but religion in particular) are the driving force that elevates Nunslaughter above the faceless ranks of other underground old-school death metal bands.

Given their one-track approach, Nunslaughter are unlikely to ever evolve or explore new territory, so acquiring new fans isn't even a consideration. This also means that there is limited value in listening to new material from them if you already have an earlier album or two, since there's nothing really different to hear. If the band were worse at what they do, it would be easy to say that they're stuck in a rut. Instead, I think it would be more fair to say that they are purists. There's no muss, no fuss, no experimentation or complexity: just straight forward, up-the-gut, pure as the depths of hell death metal in all its gruesome, vicious glory. Since this is almost like buying two albums at once, if you're not familiar with the band and you want a big chunk of material, this is as good a place as any to start.

Grade: A-

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