Review Summary: To sum it up, The Modern Age Slavery have not only managed to establish their trademarks, blowing many genremates out of the water, but also delivered one of the most memorable, brutal and just overall impressive Death Metal records in years.
When it comes to Italian Death Metal, Fleshgod Apocalypse and, at least more recently, Hour of Penance get as much attention as any band on the extreme side of (s)t(r)hings could possibly wish for. The land of pizza and pasta has spawned another leviathan of a band, though, thus giving birth to an unholy trinity: The Modern Age Slavery.
While listening to their first release, 'Damned To Blindness', had already induced a plethora of orgasms in me, their latest effort, 2013's 'Requiem For Us All', felt like the kind of album I had been eagerly awaiting for years. Well, not in the way a bum waits for their next welfare check, after they spent their last one on cheap booze during the first two weeks of the month, but more like a man with his head resting on the guillotine block, waiting for the hangman. And as it turned out during the very first moments of the record at hand, that analogy was quite appropriate, what with those razor-sharp riffs more than capable of chopping one's braincage off and those relentlessly blasting drums at the beginning of the title track, sitting right at the top of the tracklist.
Positioning it there seems like a clever move by the band, as it features all of the band's trademarks: To start with, there's said ferocious drumming by Stefano Brognoli, including start-stop patterns akin to real grooves rather than the often hated-upon breakdowns this particular songwriting technique devolved into with the uprising of deathcore from bygone days. Also on display is the axe-wielders' ability to create riffs that sport both a desirable degree of technical quality and a certain catchiness which fellow genremates often seem to lack. And while they hardly ever get as melodic as, for example, Hour of Penance's guitarwork, I find Luca Cocconi's and Simone Bertozzi's writing to be infinitely more distinguishable and memorable. In general, this memorability is what sets them apart from most modern Death Metal bands I've listened to and hence they manage to make most of these bands' albums I've grown to love during the last decade and a half seem pretty forgettable.
The catchy and, at times, atmospherically eerie guitars aren't the only memorable thing about the band, though - the vocals are another standout factor. The growls sound rather generic, but I could make out the fairly mid-pitched screams of frontman Giovanni Berselli from thousands of bands. They literally sound as if someone puts the man on a stake in the recording booth and sets the damn thing on fire right before recording, further helping the band to establish a truly unique sound. The bass I can't really say much about. Not only do I suck at hearing it generally (unless its mixed in loud), but it seems a bit too subtle in this particular production, too. It might be a case of Mirco Bennati trying to accompany the rythm guitar too much or it could be a faulty production. In any case, it doesn't sound like it's missing completely, so I guess it's right where it belongs and let's be honest... who listens to stuff like this for the bass? Yeah, I can see you two's raised hands and I guess bass players always like to hear crazy fret shredding on their instrument of choice. Well, they still have their Origin albums.
Speaking of which, there's also some obligatorily less original gears in the machine: Namely when they try to express their technical skills through what many would consider chugging. I personally appreciate those parts most of the time, but feel like they could incorporate that technique less often and still end up with really energetic songs. 'Icon Of A Dead World' is borderline Deathcore and the moments during which they could be labeled that have always felt like their laziest writing to me. That said, aforementioned start-stop patterns are often layered with atmospheric leads or aided by faintly melodic elements or technical shredding, which all in all adds to the punch of the songs and offers some breaks from the otherwise exhausting assault on the listener's eardrums.
Leaving room for improvement could be considered a good thing, since that is the only way to achieve progress without completely changing an established sound (to beat a dead horse, Morbid Angel should work as an example for that) and therefore disappointing the fans. I for one am curious what they have up their sleeves for the next record as far as their groove department goes and think this release proves they're headed in the right direction and could be up to something really big in the near future. I mean here, we see a band that has the balls to cover Arise and doesn't suck at it. I'd even go as far as calling it the definite version of the song with more varied drumming, more powerful vocals and much fiercer guitars.
To sum it up, The Modern Age Slavery have managed to not only establish their trademarks, blowing many genremates out of the water, but also delivered one of the most memorable, brutal and just overall impressive Death Metal records in years.