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"Viral Load/Putrid Pile Split" (CD/EP)

Putrid Pile - "Viral Load/Putrid Pile Split" CD/EP cover image

"Viral Load/Putrid Pile Split" track listing:

Viral Load
1. Dog Food Lube
2. Methlab Machete Massacre
3. Cod Piece Face

Putrid Pile
4. The Satisfying Dead
5. A Fitting End
6. Lifeless... Not Useless

Reviewed by on December 5, 2010

"...showcasing both the strengths and weaknesses of the genre spawned by the likes of Suffocation and modern day slam masters like Devourment and the rest of the backwards baseball cap and NFL jersey wearing chop brigade."

One man brutal death bands Viral Load and Putrid Pile, a.k.a. Shawn Whitaker and Shaun Lacanne, come together on a split release for the first time, showcasing both the strengths and weaknesses of the genre spawned by the likes of Suffocation and modern day slam masters like Devourment and the rest of the backwards baseball cap and NFL jersey wearing chop brigade.

First up is Viral Load, with its knack for juvenile song titles such as that of the album's first track, “Dog Food Lube.” From the outset, the limitations of the drum machine jump headlong out of the mix with its mechanical, soulless, tinny drone remaining a slight annoyance throughout Viral Load's appearance. Whitaker's vocals are a mix of guttural squeals and semi-intelligible vocal lines backed up by typical staccato start and stop slam riffs mixed with some knuckle dragging brutal and bludgeoning chug. And with that, this split is off to an underwhelming and admittedly flat beginning.

The cavalcade of adolescent snicker-inducing song titles continues with the alliterate “Methlab Machete Massacre,” which showcases some more intricate, faster slam riffs, but Whitaker always falls back on the same old slams that have been aped to death by now to the point where the progenitors and the imitators all sound like they once played together in the same mouth breathing brutal basement band. Viral Load's half comes to a close with “Cod Piece Face,” which does little to set itself apart from the other two offerings save for a brief solo that sounds almost classic rock. In the end, Viral Load's contribution comes off as a bit perfunctory, as though the deadline loomed and everything was suddenly rushed out for Relapse Records.

The cover of this release depicts two demons locked in mortal combat, and in combat sports, the champ always enters the ring last. Putrid Pile enters this two-man melee and proceeds to deftly blow its contemporary right off the disc with a performance that is superior in every way. From Putrid Pile's first song, “The Satisfying Dead,” its clear that Lacanne has better production value across the board, especially in the drum machine department. Putrid Pile is by far the more technical of the two bands, and Lacanne is more talented vocally, getting a deeper, fuller sound with more range than his counterpart. The guitars sound much more powerful and the sound is, overall, more satisfying and dense. In short, Putrid Pile's songs simply have more substance musically, if not lyrically.

“A Fitting End” shows that despite the trappings of brutal death metal, Putrid Pile refuses to be completely dependent on repetitive and cerebrally stunted slam riffs. And in “Lifeless...Not Useless,” Lacanne switches dexterously between squeals, high end, and guttural lows with technical and much more involved riffs than those managed by Whitaker. If this was a battle, Putrid Pile just won hands down and bowels out.

Highs: Putrid Pile shows that slams don't have to be boring.

Lows: Viral Load's half of the split drags this release into mediocre territory.

Bottom line: This one is probably only essential for die hard fans of either band.

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)