Expurgate – Dementia Tremens (Comatose Music, 2013)
In the style of blasting gurgling death metal that filled in after bands ran out of ways to pay homage to Suffocation, Expurgate unmoor a first album that is genre-consistent but shows promise in that these songs do not fade into a wall of noise.
Most bands in this style are unable to differentiate between riffs or songs very well, and so produce large amounts of very similar material. Much of that occurs because the style demands it; as a subset of death metal, it rewards only some of its techniques. The result becomes to the listener a vast flat space composed of necrotic vocals and chugging, blasting riffs with no real variation.
Dementia Tremens does not assault this basic tendency but injects an individuality to Expurgate into these songs through the distinctiveness of each song, and the tendency to vary pace just enough to allow some tension to build before its release in blasting, slamming, chugging and gurgling guttural mayhem.
While this is a strong first effort, it is going to hang out at metal’s second tier because while it is more distinctive than most of this genre, it is still relatively limited in technique and as such, songs are very similar. Expurgate are great at charging riffs and chugging tempo shifts, but would benefit from some of the fast-fingered phrase riffs that gave death metal much of its imaginative power. It also might help if this vocalist changed up his two vocal styles periodically, or toned them down to allow the song to expand around him.
Despite those small glitches, Dementia Tremens is a strong first effort that presages a great possible future for this band. If they keep developing, they’re going to hit on something interesting that can rise above the rest of this niche sub-genre. If they go further into being more like the other bands, they will be a reasonable option but not stand out more than that. Since they clearly have the ability, let’s hope they shoot for the higher goal.