Review Summary: Death metal is subjectivity given form. When one delves beneath the polished surface, one might pull a hidden gem from the darkness beneath. Desecration have spent their time in the dark- they deserve their time in the light.
The appreciation of death metal is subjectivity given form. There is no fixed mark within it against which bands are measured, no stringent standards for them to meet. Nowhere else can be found such diversity, such freedom of expression, such beautiful, chaotic variance. Whereas in other genres judgement and prejudice abound, death metal remains a land of the liberated- for every Carcass fan, another will proffer the praises of Cannibal Corpse. Some even may dig deeper, exploring the music's many-sided underbelly to unearth bands such as Severe Torture or Grotesque Impalement. There is so much to be discovered, so much to be enjoyed, even exterior to the classics of the genre. In fact, I myself find the obscure to be more of a pleasure than the populist's choice. There is so much more of an opportunity to chance upon a hidden gem, free of the flawed perceptions others may feed us. And it was just that opportunity capitalised upon that led me to Welsh death metal crew Desecration's conceptual album 'Process of Decay'. And it is safe to say that it left me pleasantly surprised.
Desecration are a band so underground Sputnikmusic doesn't even know they exist, which is a crying shame considering how unusually appealing I found this album. What sets Desecration apart from everything else of a similar stature is the fact they choose to fornicate with all manner of sub-genres on this exploration of the gradual physical degradation of the human body. True, the essential formula remains the same: snarling, gore-centric vocals, an arpeggiated growling accompaniment of riffs and thunderous blastbeats completing the noisy ensemble. But it remains defiantly unpredictable. Listening to the opening track, for instance, I fully expected a template chug-assault approach to introduce the recording, but what I actually received was a rhythmic thrash-based guitar lead reminiscent of Lamb of God, of Machine Head's earlier efforts before their approach was diluted by modernity. This vein of cross-genre blending pervaded throughout the album, offering different dimensions on tracks that would otherwise have been merely generic. I like that in a band- a desire to experiment, to not adhere to the norm. Desecration here have created something that defines them from the masses of other bands competing in the swirling chaos of the underground scene.
At heart, however, Desecration remain a death metal band through and through. Tracks such as 'Bacterial Breakdown' offer a crushingly heavy sound layered with choking roars- an almost doomy atmospheric technique- whilst others such as the concluding 'Gravewax' retain the hyper-fast sonic density reminscent of Suffocation in their highlight-strewn heyday. The technical prowess of the band is to be appreciated also- despite the detractor of a VERY glossy production, the musicmanship cannot be denied, as the visceral nature their sound professes is so believeable as to be almost tangible. In addition, Desecration's songs possess an unusual attribute for death metal- they prove catchy. This may be due to the modernity of their hooks, the thrashy sections of their riffs, but it can be hardly considered a negative aspect when it makes the album so easy to enjoy.
Admittedly, 'Process of Decay' is not without its flaws. Most notably, the vocalist of the band is far from unique, being of average talent in comparison to his bandmates, whose skills I have touched upon above. This proves irritating, as his shortcomings do undermine some songs, making the choral sections- which should by right be memorable or at least brutally intense to really hit home- a little dull in cases. His voice is also layered through production techniques, something of which I have never really approved. Consolidating upon this is the fact that as the album wears on, it appears as if some aspects of it you have heard before. Whilst no songs are repetitive as per se, partitions of them, most considerably introductory segments and bridges, are easily comparable. It's as if the band prematurely run out of ideas, padding the album with cleverly disguised variants of what has gone before. Whilst this doesn't fully negate the impact of the songs, it does grate a little eventually. However, these points shouldn't be taken as a be all and end all. Although the album is a good distance away from perfect, it still ticks all the necessary boxes to be worthy of recognition.
To conclude, I believe Desecration were, no, are, one of the unsung virtues of the death metal underground. Whilst their material is distanced from the groundbreaking or stunning, it retains a kind of creativity worthy of special mention in a scene where the mundane so oft appears. 'Process of Decay' will never be the next 'Altars of Madness', but nor will it, or should it, be forgotten. Saying this, I understand many reading this will be ignorant of this band's very existence- be not so any longer. Appreciating quality death metal is about finding the obscure, delving into it, and surfacing with a smile on one's face. I would urge you all to at least give 'Process of Decay' a try, if death metal is your cup of tea, but most of all, I would urge you all to try and take a journey like that which I am in the process of undertaking. Try it. Go out of your comfort zone. Dig, dive and delve. Who knows- you might find something as intriguing and enjoyable as I found Desecration's conceptual musings. Now that is the essence of death metal.