Review Summary: Another underrated album from the British death metal circuit of the early 90s.
Desecrator, like many others, was a band who released one album over two decades ago then seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Except they didn't exactly disappear, so much as change their name and musical style completely. The band was formed by two brothers (Mike and Steve Ford) and a good friend (Lee Hawke) in the relatively unknown town of Mansfield (a 10 minute drive from where this reviewer lives, in fact) and with this line-up created an excellent albeit underrated death metal album in Subconscious Release
. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that if the band had continued making music under the Desecrator name, it could have continued to be just as successful as the band's then British death metal peers, for Subconscious Release
is a riveting listen from the start.
What stands out the most here is the lengthy song structures, almost progressive in style but never diverting from the original path of providing bleak, grim atmospheres. The rhythm section is incredibly consistent and powerful throughout , making songs such as the eccentric “Nothing changes anything” and stunning closer “The Suffering” all the more tasteful to those death metal fans who want more than the same four minute song every time. Vocals are belligerent and always seem to focus on the guttural style, the grimness of the lyrical content largely reflecting this and bringing about maniacal overtones of raw heaviness to the recording.
It is indeed the lengthier songs which stand out here, though not by too much. The opening title track can safely be linked to Possessed's “The Exorcist” for the opening minute or so is flooded with grim, hellish moans and demonic screams, though plagued by a seemingly muddy production. However, once the rhythm section kicks in it all seems to make sense, and within seconds you're taken aback by how effective and powerful the riffs prove to be. Due to the fact that songs such as “Repressive Acceptance” and “The Suffering” are drawn out to monstrous lengths, the other instruments are also given time to shine. The bass solos are brief yet efficient in the former, whereas in the latter drum rhythms are more complex and fresh as opposed to merely sticking to the guitar's long-winded structural path. It makes sense that the trio of musicians in Desecrator used their instrumental talents to the full extent, because otherwise the music as a whole would come across as completely inconsistent.
For those who are interested in the lyrical content, you may be just as disappointed as you could be pleasantly surprised. Though the themes themselves are grim – The afterlife, being judged by physical appearance, etc. - the lyrics are written not in a poetic manner, but as if each musician of the band were trying to communicate their feelings through mediums other than music. Of course, as gruff and guttural a vocalist as Steve Ford naturally was on this album, it is relatively painful to try and grunt along with him. That said however, the lyrics aren't catchy at all, and that's perhaps the reason why those who prefer their lyrics to have some sort of catchy rhythm or flow may be disappointed. The opening lyrics to one of the album's highlights, “Nothing changes anything”, is a prime example of this:
Opinions should never be questioned,
What's right for someone may be wrong to other,
There is no real answer,
Certain views will coincide with each other.
The other outstanding problem here is the one-two punch of “Insult the Intelligence” and “Deadline”, which on some versions are both put together as one song. The band seem to take on a hybrid grindcore/death metal style but ultimately fall short of what, by this point in the album, the listener will largely expect. If you can ignore that however, and be amazed by the amount of musical virtuosity in near flawless closer “The Suffering”, then you will feel rewarded. Subconscious Release
is perhaps the perfect start to an unfortunately short career under one name, before changing to another. The album itself is filled with solid musicianship and a tendency to attempt almost progressive, more experimental song structures and as a result it succeeds overall. If you're looking for an album which favours the more sophisticated side of classic death metal, this is definitely a record to check out.