|Review: Mucupurulent - Soul Reaver|
Label: Morbid Records
Year released: 2002
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: January 12, 2003
Reviewed by: Hogworth
Rated 5/5 (100%) (1 Vote)
“Mucupurulent” is the kind of virulent, pseudo-medical moniker destined to excite associations to gorelords Carcass and their tired and trite cabal of worshippers, all bent on carnage, lyric juvenilia, and jargon suited for the surgery, not the mosh-pit. So I was happily surprised in my preliminary research when I scoured the band’s website and discovered that, rather than spewing forth another gore-metal homage, they were offering quite another musical repast. Momentarily aroused, I searched further to find more details on the band’s sound, after which I became somewhat crestfallen: I’m not sure if their sound, advertised glibly as “Porncore” or “Texas Whorecore” is any improvement over Gorecore, myself. Trade one callow waste of musical creativity for another, and the net result is still nil. Song titles like “Pussy Berserker” do elicit a smirk, but I’m not sure if I’m laughing with them, or at them, and, besides, gone are the days when I’d be willing to drop serious money on idiots who happen to have a savant’s talent for playing good music.
When I got the CD in the mail, I found that the band has drastically altered its image and themes for its latest release on Morbid Records, “Soulreaver”. Gone is the jejune pornophilia and intellectual hebetude, replaced instead with died-in-the-wool metal standards: war, death, vermin, and infestation. Cool! Usually I don’t laud these kind of blatant attempts to cash-in on the usual touchstones of metal orthodoxy, preffering instead a more imaginative lyrical approach, but, in Mucupurulent’s case, decorum is a good thing, considering the alternative.
Although the handle “Mucupurulent” is deceptive lyrically and thematically, musically, it is actually quite apropos: “mucous” itself means, according to Webster’s Standard, ‘stringy, slimy or ropy’ and “purulent” means ‘containing, discharging, or causing the production of pus.’ I suppose, then, that the name “Mucupurulent” is meant to convey a lubricious and viscid streaming discharge of pus, which is pretty much what issues from the speakers when ‘Soulreaver’ starts to spin. ‘Fudgy, thick, soupy’ doesn’t really do justice to the dense wad of grinding, plodding, storming riff-rock that these guys produce.
I guess, initially, that obvious parallels can be drawn between Mucupurulent and the quicksand sludge of old Entombed and Cathedral, as well as the more dire and vicious attack of Carcass and the punky pulse of bands like the CroMags. What I hear, however, in Mucupurulent’s axe attack, is an astonishing reprise of old Testament, particularly around the “New Order” and “Practice What You Preach” era. Mucupurulent is, of course, awash in grungy sludge, their guitar sound thick and muddy, unlike the razor-sharp crunch of Testament, but their actual approach emulates the swirling vortex of Eric Peterson’s triplet-gallops and hammering slur-styled power chords, albeit slowed down to the glutinous tempo of a cascading stream of frozen mollases.
Not only the riffs themselves, but the way in which they are presented and developed, reminds me very much of the smooth and churning style of Peterson. The vocalist roars in the best death-metal style, not from his throat, but from the Stygian depths of his lower intestine, sounding, in fact, remarkably like Chuck Billy circa “Demonic,” or Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. If you don’t believe me, listen to the opening of “The Return of the Squad,” the first lines of which are given the exact same delivery as Billy in “The Burning Times”… ‘Some would die the innocent / Some would die a whore’ etc. Or the intro riffing to “Vermin,” which is copped from Peterson’s book, and which quickly develops into a slur-style powerchord riff oddly reminiscent of the main verse riff of “Practice What You Preach.” Ditto for the roiling pounding chug of “Drive Me Dead.” Given these rather favourable comparisons, it must be noted that Mucupurulent does not possess the sweep of variety or passion in their playing that one finds in old Testament, preferring instead a rather mincing mid-paced tempo with waltz-like precision and consistency.
One refreshing aspect which Mucupurulent cultivates is basic rhythmic simplicity. I’m guessing this thing was done with a drum machine, but, as a backdrop to the rather prosaic tapestry of riffs this band offers, the elementary beats suit the band well in efficaciously driving forward their train of simple but infectious melodies. Anything else would simply distract the listener from quality riffs and thus be a detraction.
Althought ‘Soulreaver’ has much to commend it, including powerful riffing, solid death gurgles, and memorable moments, there is little in the way of variety on this album, which is a shortcoming that is, eventually, not overcome by consistency. In a way, then, the strength of their ‘rock n’ roll’ inspired approach, simplicity and contiguity, is also their weakness: lack of variation. Adding some new sonic textures and tempos would go a long way for this talented grindcore band.
Featured on the cover to ‘Soulreaver’ is a burnt-out and bullet-riddled corpse of an old 50’s style sedan, abandoned in some godless dessicated desert. I find it a powerful and useful metaphor for this band. If someone took some care with this old beauty, and refurbished her, gave her some new paint and care, it could overcome the inertia of commonplaces – dry arrangements, the – at times - arid, repetitive riffing, and unvariegated tempo – that have bound it in oblivion to its casket of dust.
Although the band prefers the label ‘grind and roll’ for its music, I favour instead the categorization ‘Fudgecore,’ both for its purveyance of texture (sound), sweetness (melodic memorability), and sameness (mid-tempo). This band is simply going to have to put more on the plate if it wants me to come dine again.
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