Review Summary: Late arrival to the best of 2008 banquet...in the darkness
Where the fu
ck did this come from? One week I'm listening to An Anatomy of the Beast
, wondering what Intestine Baalism was up to, and the next I'm hearing their new album came out two weeks ago. If you've never heard Intestine Baalism, you're an idiot. But otherwise, their sound is easily summarized by catchy, idiomatic and sometimes oxymoronic statements. Typically, they're pinpointed with some variation of “brutally melodic” and as contradictory as that may sound, when has anything the Japanese done made sense to the Western world? At this point in the review, I'm merely stalling. Intestine Baalism are far from the most complex of bands to describe and Ultimate Instinct
falls right in line with their previous two. In fact it kind of mixes them.
Their first two albums fell into a very Swedish foundation: An Anatomy of the Beast
brought some old school crunch and Banquet in the Darkness
indulged in the sugary sweet sounds of Gothenburg. And while I'm alluding to cereal, you can put whatever flavour you want on a death metal album and it'll still be death metal. This is what Intestine Baalism thrives on. Even if Banquet in the Darkness
did border on an early In Flames aesthetic, the overrated Swedes (that'd be In Flames) couldn't have put out such a solid album if they burnt Banquet in the Darkness
and sharpied their names on it. And even so, Banquet in the Darkness
was more Jester Race
than Reroute to Remain
; more “December Flower” than “Trigger”. It seasoned itself with melody; a spoonful of sugar, not a foot long pixie stick. It was Lucky Charms before you take the toasted oats out---a complete, balanced
"breakfast". Take Ultimate Instinct
as an Intestine Baalism refresher course. It solidifies their discography, reminding us of all their previous highs while smoothing out some of their lesser moments. As with their previous works, Ultimate Instinct
has a very Swedish base, but it turns that base into a cauldron, a melting pot of extreme metal's finest sounds.
“Agony in the Stone Chamber” opens the album playing the part of an overly demonic Dismember. Littered with fluctuations between half-time and blastbeats, the opener's real highlight is the reintroduction of Seiji Kakuzaki's absolutely sickeningly disgusting growl. It's guttural, almost toxic sounding and most importantly it's filthy as fu
ck. “Cry for the Sun” is the overly melodic second track, and like Banquet in the Darkness
' title track, it rules. Vocally, “Cry for the Sun” introduces the listener to Kakuzaki's blackened snarl, which is what Mayhem's Atilla might sound like if he wasn't such an overbearing, melodramatic queer. Basically, imagine an Atilla who didn't come off like an understudy for the lead role in a high school production of The Phantom of the Opera
. “Cry for the Sun” is a highly accentuated track, this time breaking up the chaos with a semi-acoustic Latin groove that's followed by a shred-led reprise---a fu
cking awesome climax. “Longing for Birth” is the best song on the album. Though it starts off with an alarmingly slamtastic intro, the track mirrors “Agony in the Stone Chamber” with it's intent to mix contemporary brutality and vintage simplicity. The track's obvious highlight comes mid-way through in an evil groove that sounds eerily like an excerpt from Dismember's oft-underestimated Massive Killing Capacity
. The groove is in some respects an anti-breakdown, aiming to ramp things up rather than break them down. From there, Intestine Baalism go on to flex their much-enhanced black metal muscles. Both “Awaking” and “Wind of Death” feature their fair share of tremolo picking, but neither track succumbs entirely to Norwegian Orthodoxy; the former blending the tinny tremolo picking with a low punch; the latter necrothrasing itself around bouts of solo-covered doom metal.
's ultimate victory is its ability to sound so real, so authentic. It manages to blend elements of New York, Norway and Sweden into a natural, original sounding album. The band manages to solo without turning supererogatory, to sound evil without gimmickry. Most importantly, it combines the classic and the contemporary into a fun, digestible but far from disposable album. So now we have found the third piece in 2008's death metal triforce of eliteness, and hey, it's better late than never. Arghoslent and Dead Congregation, the final guest to your party has arrived.