Released: 2014, Sliptrick Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Thanks to the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Hour of Penance, Italian death metal is slowly beginning to acquire some of the cache of its Swedish or Floridian brethren. Less well known, but certainly no less seasoned, are Milan's Gory Blister whose dearth of label support or international touring experience has kept them from gaining the recognition their countrymen have enjoyed in recent years.
The Fifth Fury is, appropriately, the fifth album from the band, who've been around since 1991, but whose self-released debut didn't emerge until 1999. After finally scoring a label deal, their second album, Skymorphosis, was issued via Mascot Records in 2006, and Gory Blister have been more consistent and dependable with new material ever since, even if their label situation has not.
Their last album, the tech-death conceptual work Earth-Sick was something of epic masterpiece. The Fifth Fury isn't quite so ambitious as the band, perhaps wisely, take a more controlled approach. Instead of trying to outdo what they did on Earth-Sick, the band streamline their sound, scaling back on the rollercoaster tempo changes and opting for riffier, somewhat less involved songs that pack more of punch, not unlike what others – notably Suffocation – have done before them.
And, as Suffocation managed quite ably with 2013's Pinnacle of Bedlam, Gory Blister make a rather smooth transition on The Fifth Fury. They maintain their inherent intensity while harnessing some of their technical proclivities with an added bit of melody here, some extra hooks there and a pace that is more inclined toward forward motion than sudden turns or fits and starts.
The opener “Psycho Crave,” “Toxamine” and the title track are graced with sleek, but forceful grooves that offer hints of catchiness – indeed “Toxamine” closes out on a Pantera-esque note with its fist-pumping “Walk”-like crunch. “Thresholds,” by contrast, leaps right into your face with a hardcore-like burst of full-frontal aggression thanks to Giuseppe "Joe" Laviola's jackhammer drumming and the tenacious bark of frontman Paolo ”John St. John” Quaglia
“Devouring Me” and “Prometheus Scars” deliver some of Earth-Sick's technical flair, with their more tangled-web arrangements studded with topsy-turvy tempos and the guitar pyro of Raff Sangiorgio. His crafty leadwork impresses throughout, but generally in more of a complementary manner. Here, however he really goes off.
The Fifth Fury might disappoint those who were hoping for much more of this sort of thing. But after Earth-Sick, it's just enough, providing added flavor instead of serving as the main ingredient. And it makes for a more balanced – if somewhat less spectacular - attack overall.