Released: 2014, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Montreal's Dark Century have something an identity crisis going on. On one hand, they are a pretty ferocious death/thrash band with obvious chops. On the other, they have an unusual, if demented comic edge, with a fixation on, of all things, bacon! Seriously.
Death metal and black humor need not be mutually exclusive entities. Exhumed, Impaled and, to a certain extent, Carcass have proven that. But there's a fine line cleverly comedic/sarcastic/satirical and downright idiotic. And Dark Century haven't quite found the right side of that line just yet.
The first half of Murder Motel, the bilingual band's second self-released album, offers the more “serious” side of the band – relatively speaking – and is pretty friggin' awesome. Sounding something like a cross between Cannibal Corpse and Pantera, the band mix death metal velocity and brutality with mammoth yet engaging grooves.
The title track is an absolute monster with it sledgehammer riffing and effectively grotesque lyrics, as is the all-French “Torticolis.” The mosh-a-rific “Kill The Crowd” is sort of an over-the-top take on the “Toxic Waltz” theme and kicks like an ornery mule, while “Dead Birds” and its “feed on the living” war cry offers plenty of death metal pummel.
But then things get all porcine and rather silly. The five-second segue “Trio de Bucheron” is Napalm Death's “You Suffer” meets the Oscar Mayer wiener song. “Jambon, saucisse, bacon!” frontman Leather King blurts a Francais over a microburst of noise, and his “Oui, oui, oui” squealing on “Cholesterol” sounds like the three little pigs being led to slaughter, before his slam-inducing call to arms – or, hams, in this case: “Mosh de jambons.” “Chloroforme's” chorus hits all the four mosh pit food groups: “Bacon! Metal! Alcool! Violence!” OK. Things might get a little messy in there.
“Mosh Test Dummies” and “Gore On My Snare” at least leave charcuterie off the menu, but the low-brow splatter of the lyrics make them seem like dopey tossoffs, though the music underneath is pretty crushing. And that's pretty much the case throughout. Murder Motel's sound is big and brash, with sterling production making the guitars and drums fat, full and feral. Just too bad about all the breakfast meat and grindhouse cheese.