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Decaying - "Devastate" (CD)

Decaying - "Devastate" CD cover image

"Devastate" track listing:

1. Strangled (4:55)
2. The Aftermath (11:11)
3. As the Fire Burns (5:44)
4. Annihilation (14:19)
5. New Order (4:18)
6. ...To Decay (11:29)

Reviewed by on October 23, 2011

"The purely death metal tracks are performed with competency and proper gravitas, but the loaded epics wallow in lame instrumental passages and bloated riffs."

An album split between rusty death metal and double-digit death/doom behemoths can be a lofty expedition for the most veteran of bands. However, Decaying is a young Finnish group doing this with their first album. “Devastate” is taken from the band’s two early demos, “New Order” and “The Annihilator.” The purely death metal tracks are performed with competency and proper gravitas, but the loaded epics wallow in lame instrumental passages and bloated riffs.

The songs came from demos, and it doesn’t seem like they were cleaned up for the full-length. It has that old-school death metal sound, with the guitars and vocals taking up most of the mix. It’s for the best, as the drums are sloppy during the faster moments and redundant during the slower material. The vocals are the best part, with sickening grunts and growls that are hard to decipher, but sound like acid being forced-fed down someone’s throat.

Even with the average production, the power of “Strangled” is felt through whatever set of audio equipment a listener is using. The sloppiness of the instrumental work is most apparent on this track, but it gives a late ‘80s flavor to the music. Looking at the length of “The Aftermath,” it’s obvious that this is a different beast than the preceding track. The extended time allows guitarists Matias Nastolin and Olli “Otu” Suurmunne to get a little technical in their riffs and leads.

The middle of “Devastate” exposes most of the issues. The messy “As The Fire Burns” is a terrible first-impression that never goes away, and “Annihilation” is about seven minutes over what it needs to be. An ominous spoken word passage about a battle on the horizon in the latter track is done with poise, yet comes in almost ten minutes into the track. At that point, many listeners will have tuned out to anything the band has to say.

The best tracks are put at the back-end of the record. “New Order” is a vicious cut in avoiding the mid-paced traps the other shorter tunes get stuck in. The shred-heavy solos are one of the top highlights from “New Order.” “...To Decay” has a Winter-ish opening; a strictly doom tempo that takes over three minutes to transition into the real meat of the tune. The song changes speeds, but doesn’t force these shifts, and a solemn clean outro is a melodic touch missing from most of the album.

Decaying isn’t here to pull death metal into a new era of prosperity, but what they bring with “Devastate” is not something to put down. Considering this material came from early demos, the band’s progression can’t be judged until their second album, which they are currently working on. Songs like “New Order” and “...To Decay” show how the band’s two-faced sound can be an effective system to work an album around, but the jitters and shortcomings on the other tracks are noticeable enough to rank “Devastate” as middle-of-the-pack death metal.

Highs: A few killer death metal cuts, guttural vocals

Lows: The longer songs tend to be too ambitious for their own good, mediocre production, sloppy drums

Bottom line: "Devastate" doesn't make a major impression, but should find favor with die-hard death metal fans.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

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)