Review Summary: Progressive Death Metal from Africa. You could be sold right there, but African or not, Wrust proves that they are awesome, Africa or no Africa.
When I think of African music, I don't think of progressive death metal. I think of athletic Africans dancing in tribal clothes to the beat of a drum, not heavily distorted metal riffage and a dude roaring into a microphone. Either way, Wrust seems to not care. Coming from Botswana, Wrust are the only progressive metal band I've ever heard come from the true heart of Africa...in fact, their the only band I've ever heard come from the true heart of Africa period. But I think it's fair to give every band from every culture, no matter how unlikely, a chance, right" I'd say so, because Wrust and their debut Soulless Machine rule. Originally starting as Okumbwe in 1998 as a brutal death band, the members formed Wrust in 2000 and released Soulless Machine in 2007.
Soulless Machine takes very obvious influence from several bands including Sepultura, Gorguts, and Slayer, but one band that seems to have inspired this green-covered CD is probably Death's Human. In a way, the entire record sounds like a Human: Part 2. The riffs have the same technicality, the guitar tone and heaviness is similar sounding, even Stux's vocals sound nearly identical to Chuck.
The album begins with the title track, which is one of the newer songs that did not appear on the demo. It is noticeably the fastest song on the album overall, as well as one of the most brilliant and progressive. It begins with someone speaking Zulu ("All I ever feel anymore is anger") and instantly the roar of Stux over buzzing guitars and blaring blast beats engage. Beginning with a simple death metal tremolo riff and aggressive drumming, it also incorporates slower paced, catchy riffing, more characteristic the band’s general sound. Up next is the chugging, groove driven Kill or Be Killed, which is an expanded and improved version of the song that appeared on the demo, followed by the groovy, catchy Just a Sinner, which though being a new song, would not at all have sounded out of place on the demo.
Next up is Prophecy of Doom, which along with the title track, stands out to me as the best song on the album. A new song, it features more riffs and more variation in tempo and feel than most of the other songs. If this is any indication of the direction the band are headed, then they are headed in the right direction. Though simplicity is not a bad thing, it doesn’t hurt the band to incorporate a greater number of riffs and greater variation like they do in this song. In fact, the riffs and technicality explode with awesomeness, sounding almost Chuck Schuldiner-esque in variety and technique.
Next are Run (an old song from the demo) and The Renegade. Both are mid/slower paced. And while Run is simplistic and catchy, The Renegade features a slightly awkward (though less simplistic) main riff, and is made up of a greater number of riffs than the older songs are. Though, I think the trophy for "Best Song on Soulless Machine" goes to Why Me, a gloomy and depressing track that rules the entire way. Opening with a clean guitar riff, the song moves into a slow and doomy riff and an extremely catchy chorus, not to mention the best guitar solo on the album. The track is a must-listen for anyone who gives a damn about metal. Depressive and heavy, though the music video is stupid. The album closes with the chunky death metal of Cleansing Ritual; a good closer and my personal favorite of all the songs that also appeared on the original demo, and the main riff was used in the Okumbwe demo track called WereLeopards.
Though not entirely perfect, Soulless Machine is a pretty fantastic debut effort. The band may label themselves as death metal, but it may not be the most accurate description of the music. What we have here is not pure death metal, particularly the older material. Several of the songs are pure death metal songs, but some of them can only be described as extreme groove-oriented metal with elements of thrash and death with a huge amount of unusual and constant changing time signatures and upper-stringed riffs to give it a progressive metal feel. Stux’s vocals sound identical to Chuck Schuldiner during his Human era. They are throaty and gruff, as opposed to death metal grunts. The music is generally raw, dirty, and somewhat simplistic, making for an overall old school/retro feel, and it sometimes sounds like it was filmed in someone's closet...though that wouldn't really surprise me because I cant imagine there would be much of an audience to fund a record production for this kind of music in Botswana. But, Soulless Machine is catchy, easy to get into, and very much a progdeath metal album. Fans of Death in particular should like this immediately. I am hooked from the awesome track one and Why Me is a perfect closer. It makes me wonder what is going on in Africa to inspire such awesome metal music. For a website that has such a dedicated community for metal, I think it's pretty sad that this only has two votes.
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