Venom Prison
Samsara


4.5
superb

Review

by Christopher Y. USER (44 Reviews)
August 25th, 2019 | 10 replies


Release Date: 03/15/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A morbid delight.

Mid-year Review Series: (Part 4)

For many casual listeners, misogyny may not be the first word first come to their mind when they are asked about keywords that related to death metal. Not to be politically correct, but it is not uncommon for bands in the death metal genre to have toxic masculinity running rampant within back at the genre’s early days, in order to enhance the violence factor in their sound, not to mention the typical topics of the genre itself, which leaves some bitter taste for some towards the heavy metal subgenre. Enter Venom Prison, a Welsh death metal band who dismissed such feature, with the track “Perpetrator Emasculation” from their debut album Animus alone proves they are not your typical death metal band, and instead played realistic, sociopolitical themes, not unlike the later years of death metal pioneers Death, while remaining the intensity and brutality of death metal. With pummeling blast beats, unpredictable pace shifts, dissonant guitars, swampy bass, and lead singer Larissa Stupar’s petrifying growls, the band’s sophomore effort, Samsara, is a humane and powerful record that is still dark and punishing that would not only transcend the genre’s rather unsavory feature, but that could move the hearts of many.

The lyrical themes surrounding this album alone are enough to let the band stand apart from their contemporaries: the lead single “Uterine Industrialisation” details the graphic horror of commercial surrogacy, as Stupar furiously growled the shocking exploitations of the Third World women for being surrogate mothers amid the blast beats and swampy guitars and bass, with her spitting her caustic words about surrogates’ lost of freedom (“Beauty, once wild and free/Now domesticated”) and the pain that they suffered(“Aggressive birth trauma/Ushered from the comfort of the womb”), while angrily accusing the heartless capitalism behind such inhumane practice(“In regulations that protect business interest, not people/The female body used as a vessel”) and having the song filled with thrilling, shredding guitar solos. This song, of course, is only part of the showcase that displayed its sociopolitical oriented lyrics, which makes the album such a unique visit. In fact, the band also successfully explores hot button topics such as anti-queer laws (“Megillus & Leana”), the increasingly broken justice system that silenced many sexual assault victims(“Implementing the Metaphysics of Morals”), the corruption-and-prejudice-riddled, divided society (“Asura’s Realm”), elimination of individuality(the chaotic “Sadistic Rituals”) and mental illness(“Self Inflicted Violence”, “Dukkha” and “Naraka”). Some might say that such a lyrical approach to social and political topics is simply an attempt for the band to gain more attention. However, that is the reason why Samsara is such a remarkable record that allures many listeners at the first place since there are very few bands in the death metal genre who could write such themes without being pretentious.

Despite the unusual lyrical themes, the band did not forget to create spaces for themselves to experiment with various sonic territories within the death metal genre. Take the instrumental “Deva’s Enemy” as an example, with the song has a loop of metal clanking serves as the central groove, while an eerie synth serves as the melody of the song, only to have some more ominous shuffling electronics rumble in, building up the tension to the colossal follow-up track “Asura’s Realm”, a highlight sprinkled with towering lead guitars, Stupar’s monstrous yet comprehensible screams and crushing double-bass drums. If that’s not enough, the bookend tracks that are “Matriphagy” and “Naraka” showcased the two sides of the album: The former is backed with an adrenaline-pumping blast beat and crunching riffs, while the band shifted their pace unpredictably frequent, as if their sound could explode at any moment, even after the tempos drastically dropped; Began with an atmospheric guitar arpeggio, the six-minute, doom-laden latter is a (relative) melodic song that found the band experimented with more smoother tempo changes, as it alternates between the crunching beginnings and the more atmospheric sections, while being contrasted by the melodic guitar leads and machine gun-paced rhythms and concluded with a spiraling guitar shredding and frantic rhythms. While tracks such as “Sadistic Rituals”, “Self Inflicted Violence” and “Uterine Industrialisation” proved that the band still remain their gore-riddled death metal routes, Samsara also showcased that the band is also capable of unleashing their creativity as artists, making it an exciting album to listen to.

My only qualm about this album is that its murky instrumental mixes, as it somehow leads the album to sound slightly difficult to listen without any earphones and high amount of volume, though it also boosts the album’s chaotic tone. Despite such sonic flaw, Samsara solidify the fact that death metal can be humane and eclectic, both lyrically and sonically, without losing its signature brutality and heaviness, while establishing Venom Prison as one of the most exciting death metal bands in the 21st Century, thanks to the band’s successful blend of the gory, Carcass-recalled death metal, stunning songwriting with opaque hooks and the profound sociopolitical topics that are sadly relatable in this currently chaotic political state. Although gores and violence are pretty much essential to the death metal, Venom Prison proves that a death metal does not have to rely on blood-drenched fantasy to beef up the brutality, and instead can serves as the mirror to the modern world’s twisted cruelty and one’s inner struggles, without jettisoning the signature dissonant, harsh sound of the genre. As a result, Samsara is a perfect cocktail of blood-curdling music, sonic innovation and thought-provoking lyrical themes, one that a morbid delight that deserves a spot at any year-end list.

Personal Rating: 4.35 / 5

Personal Favourite:
Megillus & Leana
Uterine Industrialisation
Asura’s Realm
Naraka



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3.8
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Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (4)
Not for the fainthearted....


Comments:Add a Comment 
SherlockChris9021
August 25th 2019


198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was attracted to this album when I read the Kerrang! magazine review for this album. At first, I gave it a 4 to this album since it sounded pretty good to me at the time. But when I found out it has more surprises in this album, I raised my score to 4.5.

So, we are coming to the close of the three series that are the Old Times, Modern Times and Mid-year Reviews, yet I realize that I am a week away from my new year in uni, meaning it might take months to complete the series in order for me to cope with schoolwork. So I decided to the same thing as the Reading and Leeds Performers series, which is to unveil the albums that would be reviewed:

Joni Mitchell-Blue (Old Times)

Rolo Tomassi-Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It (Modern Times)

La Dispute-Panorama (Mid-year Reviews)

As always, constructive criticism is appreciated, for both the review and the series.

Digging: Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

Viraemias
August 25th 2019


34 Comments


SherlockChris9021 how many times you gonna change your rating you flip flopper!

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2019


56938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tight

Digging: Daniel Johnston - Songs of Pain

zaruyache
August 25th 2019


21307 Comments


still really hate her screams.

SherlockChris9021
August 26th 2019


198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For the rating thing, I only changed once, because I didn't realize that my original rating would not change after I publish the review with a new score. So I adjusted that, sorry for that matter.

Ray91
August 26th 2019


220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Record slays! Larissa is such a good frontwomen.

Digging: White Ward - Futility Report

Deathconscious
August 26th 2019


22227 Comments


"My only qualm about this album is that its murky instrumental mixes, as it somehow leads the album to sound slightly difficult to listen without any earphones and high amount of volume"

Doesnt sound all that murky to me, even on my phone i can get a good idea of whats going on. Will have to give this a proper chance though.

Digging: Pyramidal - Pyramidal

SherlockChris9021
August 26th 2019


198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@AdolfChrist: You are actually quite right, the reason why I write this sentence because I listened the album in a lower volume. Still, sometimes you might find the mix is quite messy. Nonetheless, I recommend you to listen to it.

butt.
August 26th 2019


4770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album kicks ass. probably still my favorite deathcore this year

Thalassic
August 26th 2019


3372 Comments


This is rather good yeah



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