"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Utopium - "Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality" (CD)

Utopium - "Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality" CD cover image

"Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality" track listing:

1. Null Rousting (2:30)
2. Lodging in a Rut (:16)
3. Jaded Graft (:54)
4. Tangiest Outlet (:43)
5. Held Tombstone (2:44)
6. Tort Deletion (:20)
7. Jarred Into Newtons (1:15)
8. While Mavens Ply (1:16)
9. Lower Providence (:50)
10. Dissolution (1:31)
11. Retrace and Rummage (:37)
12. Thrive a Starch (3:20)
13. Through Coalescence (1:22)
14. Unperformed Reaction (:14)
15. Owner of a Kept Abidance (1:53)
16. Revamp the Disinfection (:33)
17. Thin-Skinned Skill (1:15)
18. A Fallible Minimum (1:21)

Reviewed by on May 24, 2013

"They play their stuff like the power is about to go out in the studio, as if they had little time for retakes or overdubs."

Portuguese grindcore maniacs Utopium bust into the scene with their debut album, “Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality.” Six years have gone by since the band began, and through it all, Utopium self-financed and released various demos and EPs leading up to this album. The DIY approach worked well for the group, letting Utopium make the necessary sound tweaks before signing with a label. With a sludgy top layer plastered onto a grind shell inspired by Nasum, Terrorizer, and Napalm Death, “Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality” is a gleeful grind slaughtering.

The members of Utopium are not innovators, looking to contort the guidelines that grindcore was founded on. They play their stuff like the power is about to go out in the studio, as if they had little time for retakes or overdubs. They pour their abrasive emotions out into 18 songs that together cut out before the album can get close to 25 minutes in length. The concept of the album, exploring the vices and virtues that Man encounters, is underplayed by the audacious style Utopium goes about dishing out.

“Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality” is laid out such that the band breaks up the expansive tracks with thirty-second blasts of noise. Having a structure like this allows neither side of the band to get downgraded by the other. The meaty, suffocating riffs on “Null Rousting” and “Thrive a Starch” supplement the unkempt grinding that the tracks eventually transition into. No one song is satisfied with keeping the grind away, no matter what the length may be. “Owner of a Kept Abidance” is the closest to a “melodic” track, with an almost-groovy riff format used in the first half.

However, this is a grindcore album, so expectations are for blistering tempos and musicians destroying their instruments. Utopium desn’t let any listeners down, as “Lodging in a Rut,” “Tort Deletion,” and “Unperformed Reaction” prove. Those three songs total less than a minute, which will get an eager response from those who like their music like that. Just because a song doesn’t encompass more than a minute is not to say that the band can’t make an impression. “Revamp the Disinfection” has a tuneful break among its 33 seconds, and the drums overwhelm closer “A Fallible Minimum” thanks to the rest of the band holding back at select points.

This debut album from Utopium is a grindcore fan’s wet dream; exactly the kind of reckless, non-technical marvel that should be required. It won’t define the genre for years to come, but it’ll sure knock a few heads loose. Without lyrics, the overall concept the band was going for is lost, though samples from the films “The Jacket” and “24 Hour Party People” add some ambience to the album. Music like this doesn’t need a message, just enough of a thrill ride to give grindcore another reputable band to add to its ranks.

Highs: Solid grindcore from a new band, variety in the tempos helps, and well-placed sampling

Lows: The concept is lost with all the chaos going on, and there are a few generic-sounding tracks

Bottom line: Utopium puts in an inspired performance with frantic grindcore on this first album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)