Review Summary: So what would you do if I just blew up one day?
Welcome to Mexico. Home of bands such as Brujeria and Aesino. Seeing as those are the only two I band I can remember of the top of my head it is evident that Mexico is hardly the thriving hotbed for Death Metal. Enter Denial, A Mexican quintet consisting of former members of the now defunct Cenotaph(Mexican). If anyone has listened to Cenotaph then it is needless to say that this band has a lot to live up to and as a debut it is pulled off quite well.
The production on this album is absolutely monstrous and it is evident that this band may have wanted to capture the thick down-tuned guitar tone which had been embraced by the wearly Swedish Death Metal scene. A massive emphasis has been placed upon making the guitars ridiculously thick meaning that at times it is almost suffocating. The vocals also appear to have had some working over as well. They along with the guitars sound crushing and help to create the evil atmosphere this album projects. However for the drums and bass it's a different matter. In typical bassist fashion the bass is barely audible yet acts as a sound thickener which adds to the brutal low end of the music. The drums unusually appear to be a bit further back in the mix than what is standard on a Death Metal recording.
The music itself goes hand in hand with the production. If the production indicates a major focus upon the low end then the usual case is that the music itself should be slow, plodding and methodical. In this case Denial effectively do just that yet the combination of an immense production combined with decent songwriting skills ensure that this album does not turn into a lumbering abomination such as a Grave B-side (Graves discography seems to have a foundation upon these). The main aspect of the music in accordance with production is definitely the guitar work which is masterful with very skillful lead work thrown in (Immense Carnage Vortex). The other main aspect is also the vocals which sound absolutely inhuman due to the production. The highs are very consistent and the highs....holy crap the goddamn highs! Put simply they sound unlike and other highs I've ever heard. Apart from that the bass and drums seem a bit lost in the mix.
This album however comes with flaws. The obvious ones are in the case of the drum work and bass which become lost in the mix. Furthermore despite the augmentation the production gives some people may find it almost too over produced. Another negative aspect comes in the form of the fact that despite the great songwriting ability there are times where creativity in the band seems to be sapped. The album is long yet for some it may be too long, especially when some songs blend into each other. Furthermore they appeared to run low on ideas, this is evident when you compare the opening riff on 'Remains' to the opening riff on 'Immense Carnage Vortex.' They are for all intents and purposes the same riff. It comes to prove that just because you can write one great song it doesn't exactly mean you can write more of the same caliber.
Overall Catacombs Of The Grotesque is a strong old school Death Metal album. Its production heavily supplements the music and gives it a large amount of its appeal. It's songwriting is also extremely strong and yet at times it becomes very weak which therefore makes for an album which comes between captivating moments and dull moments on a regular basis. In the end it would seem that Mexico could finally move away from the Deathgrind which bands like Brujeria and Aesino have made Mexico so notorious for in the worldwide Death Metal scene to a more old school approach. In otherwords this album may catch you off surprise if you're expecting the standard Mexican offering.