Album Review: Putrevore - Miasmal Monstrosity
Reviewed by Sam Jones
At some point we truly are going to get an Avengers-style team up of Rogga Johansson’s various works; and it’ll just be a team full of Rogga Johansson cloned so many times over. This project of his however is a doozy however, releasing Putrevore’s first full length record in six years. Johansson claims the podium playing guitar and bass of course, but it’s good to note that Dave Rotten of Avlused/Christ Denied/Famishgod reputation also returns to the vocal helm for this record as he has done for the rest of Putrevore’s studio material. The band are amongst Johansson’s oldest projects having been born in 2004 originally under the name of Deadbreath before changing themselves into Putrevore come 2007 where a year later they dropped their first demo and, eventually, their debut studio record Morphed From Deadbreath. Their 2012 Macabre Kingdom record is where things get interesting for the band as their name explodes pretty quickly before following it up soon enough with 2015’s Tentacles Of Horror. Now with 2021 slowly wrapping up it’s good to see Putrevore returning and with another album no less so let’s take a look at Miasmal Monstrosity and what the band have in store for us with their fourth studio album.
If you’re looking for a vocal performance that will enable you to fully enjoy the vocals as far as understanding what each word is and following them along then I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen here. This is nothing short of total vocal obliteration and considering it’s been six years since Putrevore last gave us fresh studio album material, it’s good to know they’re not shying away from an equally brutal vocal performance as they’ve given us in prior releases. You’re not going to make out a word of what is being said but honestly, in the midst of all the instrumentation and songwriting the band have on display for you that isn’t going to be an issue since the band are seeking to immerse you within this rotting and dilapidated soundscape. You are able to make out just a semblance of the syllables uttered here but on the whole the actual words pronounced aren’t the priority of the vocal performance. Now maybe it’s the primal caveman in me but I also loved the periodical gutturals that are thrown our way, from a songwriting and technical perspective they add nothing but from an atmospheric and generally “metal” vantage point they succeed at entrenching you within the band’s straight up death metal tone just that little extra.
Can something be maybe a little too loud? Because usually I have my volume up quite high (because I like things loud and to fully immerse myself in music), however I genuinely had to turn it down after having my eardrums practically assaulted from the first instance of this record’s runtime. Now I’m all for a good volume, you want a band to dominate your senses whenever you pop their respective record on however I do think that if you feel the need to absolutely turn it down then that’s when I think you’ve overdone it. However I turned it down just a touch and it was just right; I feel like had they not been as enthusiastic with the volume in the mix this wouldn’t be an issue but it’s barely a major issue at that anyway. The high grade volume the band demonstrates really allows their low-end guitar tone to come through with all the more clarity. It’s a riff presence that really punches you in the face and while the tone may not be on the density level as something by Sanguisugabogg or Tomb Mold etc, it is one that lingers all the more. That additional boost of the guitar work in the mix really grabs your attention and it’s going to be the core cause for your fixation on the riffs owing to how shapely and sharply defined the riffs feel in physical form. They don’t feel like they’re merely blending in with the rest of the band’s performance in some seamless mire but rather they can be still be identified and followed even during the more aggressive sections of various tracks e.g. Clad In Skin And Rot.
It’s interesting how the band’s interplay comes across on this record. For the most part as you take in each track as they come, the overall emphasis is going to focus on the collective band’s effort to draw you in and then entertain you. Every so often throughout the various tracks you may feel like the various instrumental aspects will break free a touch e.g. Vortex Devourer will maintain a fairly steady course of music before the guitar work will suddenly latch off somewhat and we get some more freeform playing, not necessarily to the degree of a full solo but enough to warrant your attention that the guitar work is branching out. That notion of branching or spreading out gives the band’s chemistry the imagery akin to a strongly rooted oak tree. This is observed in the respect that you’ve got the various branches and twigs and offshoots of bark that represent what the guitar, drums and bass will give you throughout the record however the primary tree trunk is that central focus on the band’s total performance as a whole unit as opposed to just being a collection of individual components if you will. That’s very much how I viewed this record, it may not deviate all too wildly as more chaotic and maddening death metal albums may prefer to however when things do offshoot, you’ll immediately pick up on it and thereby greatly focus your attention on what is being thrown at you.
As much as this is rather a very straight up death metal record with few surprises in store for us, it must be mentioned how effective the drumming feels herein. Considering how the album is adorned in speed and brutality it makes perfect sense for the majority of the drumming to be cemented in a frantic yet tightly disciplined performance that not only creates the rampant and menacing atmosphere this album purports, but also alludes to the intense skill of their own drummer. A good portion of this record is attired in blast beats as is expected, but I appreciated how they don’t dominate the entire album’s worth of drumming. They’re effective and they’re clearly there and while you’re not exactly going to get anything you haven’t heard before, it’s good to note how reserved they still feel. The blast beats are kept securely in the background and aren’t too loud in the mix whereby they would clash with the main riffs. As a result the drums keep to themselves but they also ensure the band’s performance is nicely wrapped up and actually manages to ooze that collective vibe you can’t help but feel throughout the record’s duration. What’s more is the use of bass drums as well as other drumming patterns to break up any potential blast beat-inducing monotony; these blast beats may be the crux of the drumming but the band made sure that that wasn’t the only leg the drums could stand on. In the slower and more methodical segments, the drums likewise slow down as well and we get a steadier and rolling feeling to the drums as they do keep the tempo under control, yet all the while maintaining a constant sense of movement. The drums never sit completely still so neither does the album.
In conclusion, ending out on a high with Consume All Flesh as a predominantly doomier and vastly more crushing piece than the rest of the album has otherwise gifted us with, I feel like Putrevore’s Miasmal Monstrosity is actually a grower of an album. When I first played this and the initial tracks began, I got the impression of this being a straight up, no nonsense death metal record and as it stands I still think that is very much the case. However with the full album under my belt I can confidently say it continued to grow on me the longer it ran for so by the time we approached the two-thirds mark I was absolutely all in for what is, again, a very meat-and-potatoes death metal album. There’s nothing wrong with that approach to extreme metal songwriting, none at all. What matters is how you make it interesting and work for your songwriting in conjunction to what your fans would like to hear from you, and I can say that Putrevore do this simple take on death metal pretty well. If I were to play this album again from the beginning there would likely be things I missed the first time round. This record is a sleeper discovery I think whereby the more you listen to it the more you’ll recognise aspects you didn’t even realise were there in the first place. So while I do think the general volume of the album could have been dialled down a little I still feel like it’s succeeded at setting out what the band wished to achieve, especially once again concerning how it’s their first full length in six years. Putrevore are back.