Review Summary: An exercise in excess.15 of 15 thought this review was well written
Infant Annihilator are a band whose name has been liberally tossed around in the deathcore community over the last few months. Hailing from the UK, the anticipation for these guys’ new album has steadily increased since the video for “Decapitation Fornication” was uploaded to the band’s official YouTube page in October. The video is interesting to say the least, featuring an absolutely ferocious sound track accompanied by the image of two young men in a forest occupying themselves with an array of activities including but not limited to throwing up coloured milk, building drum kits out of stumps and leaves and the all too frequent clothed humping session. The obvious question then, given the subject matter of their lyrics (corruption in the Catholic church), is “are we meant to take these guys seriously?” The answer is a resounding “no” and for that reason, you’ll end up enjoying yourself upon listening to this record, in all likelihood.
The album, really, in an exercise in excess, riddled with inhumanly paced instrumentation and some of the most insane drumming to be printed to disc in recent years. Are these guys trying to re-write the rulebook for extreme music? Not really, they’re merely taking samples from some of the more abrasive genres such as deathcore, tech-death and even some slam, injecting it with a slightly more than nominal dose of adrenalin and having fun seeing what they can create. The attitude they’ve taken towards writing the record means that it is ultimately devoid of structure, with no sequence bearing much resemblance to the one that preceded it. Whether this was deliberate or just the result of throwing together as many different possible combinations of notes and drum patterns as possible, they struck gold with their direction because it serves the purpose of keeping you on the edge of your seat. Instead of feeling as if you’re listening to a disjointed mess, you’re merely poised in anticipation (or horror) of what you’ll be assaulted with next.
From a technical standpoint, at least in terms of the guitar playing, these guys will win marks with fans of speed, but ultimately lose out in the eyes of those who are fans of intricacy or melody. While around half this record is played at well into the high 200s, even 300s in terms of beats per minute, speed can only compensate so much for the lack of memorable riffs. When the lead guitar comes to the forefront, you’re almost invariably greeted with sweep picking or arpeggio riffs, leaving you with an uncomfortable craving for something a little more interesting. For the most part, the guitar playing consists of chugs, slams or tremolo strumming. When something that resembles a decent riff manages to trickle its way into a track, it’s so low on the mix that the vocals and drumming (particularly the bass triggers and cymbals) drown it out so that it’s almost impossible to hear it, then once you think you’ve gotten it figured out, it’s gone.
The guitar playing won’t win the hearts of too many (unless you REALLY like sweeping), but if one instrumental performance is worthy of genuine praise, it’s the drumming. Although it suffers from the same disease as the guitars in that it features a nagging lack of variety, the speed and precision with which Aaron Kitcher wields a pair of drum sticks is breathtaking. At certain points, particularly during the extended periods of blast beats in “Anal Prolapse Suffocation” and “Immeasurable Foetal Mutilation”, you’ll be hard pressed to believe these drums aren’t programmed. The fills, while never being particularly varied or interesting, are still air tight in their execution and the double kick needs to be heard to be believed. Dan Watson’s vocals, while being relatively impressive, are pretty much constant in their presence, eventually becoming quite grating. The album could have benefitted from some longer and more numerous instrumental breaks that don’t consist of breakdowns, oh, and did I mention that this album has breakdowns, and a hell of a lot of them at that?
That’s right, by ultimately identifying themselves as a deathcore band, these guys are no strangers when it comes to littering their work with the infamous half/quarter/eighth time intervals in which drop tuned guitars chug and away cymbals are monotonously smashed into oblivion. The main saving grace is that they manage to make their breakdowns interesting enough to be enjoyed when compared to most of the genre’s “star” acts, but the issue remaining is that breakdowns are still far too numerous and far too randomly thrown into a song. “Decapitation Fornication” features no less than 4 breakdowns, 3 of which are in a row, ruining one of the would-be stronger tracks.
This album, while ultimately leaving a nice taste in my mouth, still leaves more to be desired. The vocals are impressive, the guitars are well executed, the production is very clean and the drumming is superb. All the ingredients for a great metal band are there, but, another look at the video for “Decapitation Fornication” leaves me worried that these guys are going to squander their obvious talent and become a piss take act, perfectly happy to remain in the deathcore rut and become stagnant as opposed to cracking their knuckles and remaining serious for long enough to write a truly great album. “The Palpable Leprosy of Pollution” is an enjoyable album when approached with the right attitude, and it will leave many with baited breath as to what direction these guys will take with their project. For now at least, they’ve made a good start.