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Debauchery - "Kill, Maim, Burn" (CD)

Debauchery - "Kill, Maim, Burn" CD cover image

"Kill, Maim, Burn" track listing:

1. Kill Maim Burn
2. For God, Emperor And Fatherland
3. Hordes Of Chaos
4. The Fall Of Gondolin
5. Butchered Zombies
6. The Fifth Battle
7. Insane Human Butchery
8. Slaves To Darkness
9. The Hellspawn (live)
10. Chainsaw Masturbation (live)
11. Devour Of Worlds (live)

Reviewed by on June 12, 2011

"The music largely plods around in circles, winding up right back where it started, without even having the common decency to get back there in a timely fashion."

Death metal done slow and sludgy—sometimes it works, and sometimes it stands still like a stagnant pool of reeking effluvium, not really going anywhere. Stuttgart, Germany's Debauchery leans toward the latter on the re-release of their debut album, “Kill, Maim, Burn.” The music largely plods around in circles, winding up right back where it started, without even having the common decency to get back there in a timely fashion. Riff recycling reigns supreme as the songs gurgle along, establishing an old school grind, death metal, thrash kind of vibe that is not unsatisfying but frustratingly not fulfilling at the same time.

The title track starts things off with the typical grunt, growl, shriek death metal trademark vocals set to a Bolt Thrower with added brutality sound. It's old school and bludgeoning, with very simple, repetitive riffs and a chorus fit for the live setting. But at nearly six minutes long it is the first of many tracks that leave one staring at their watch, wondering why the length wasn't cut in half. “For God, Emperor and Fatherland” follows—slow and simple wins the race to the past. It's like Grave doing brutal death. “Hordes of Chaos” changes the mood slightly, bringing in some doom elements, with a chorus that repeats the title like a Max Cavalera-penned thrash anthem. This is the death metal equivalent of three-chord punk's “anyone can play it” ethic, which could play well were the songs not quite so long.

The album continues treading soundly around the middle ground, failing in equal measure to impress or force one to write off the band entirely. It begins to remind of Six Feet Under with Euro undertones and more vocal range, including a bizarre yelping vocal attack at the end of “The Fall of Gondolin.” And even though this disc was released a few years ago, someone needs to inform death metal bands that the zombie theme, unless you're in Zombie Ritual, needs to return for some much needed grave rest for a while. We'll give Debauchery a retroactive pass on this one and just say that “Butchered Zombies” is the band's take on atmospheric horror kitsch, with a snare tone that is given a lot of room to ring. It borders on the derivative, but don't over-think it, or over-listen, for that matter. Just let the mediocre repetition wash over you like the calming tides of gore.

By the final few songs, it really does all start to sound the same. Slow, sludgy, and crushing, but it becomes akin to watching stock footage of cars being crushed into cubes. One is cool, but after that the appeal is gone. Not a band to let a single cliché lie, Debauchery takes a figurative stab at military matters in “The Fifth Battle,” and then moves on to mental derangement in “Insane Human Butchery.” Apparently this band's definition of insanity moves a lot slower, all the time, than the chaotic kind of say, Cannibal Corpse. This song features the first faint hint of speed on the whole album, with a brief tease of a blast, but it's not enough to hold focus after the recurring waves of sameness having lulled the eardrum with a pacifying ripple of repetitious background noise. But if there is a blueprint to follow for the future of Debauchery, this song should be it. Mix the slow stuff with some blasting fury, and let the embers pop every once in a while to get the brushfire going, and let it engulf the countryside.

Ending the album's original songs, which are then followed by three live bonus tracks, is “Slaves to Darkness,” which takes us right back to death march drudgery. Overall, the songs do have a morsel of deathly charm to them, but one can only imagine this particular batch of sonic sleeping pills putting an audience into the dark depths of catatonia live. Debauchery clearly has the chops, but its brand of sludge death just doesn't have enough Coffins-like power, doom, and dirt behind it to do anything other than have the finger searching for fast forward.

Highs: "Kill, Maim, Burn" is a solid effort, but that's the best that can be said of it.

Lows: Every song on the album is cut from the same worn out, bloodstained cloth.

Bottom line: Slow repetition might work for sludge, doom, or drone bands, but in death metal it just comes across as 10 different kinds of dull.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)