Released: 2016, PRC Music
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Seputus are essentially the more conventional alter ago of tech-death avant-gardists Pyrrhon – although by the loosest definition of “conventional.” With the addition of bassist Erik Malave, the trio now comprises 75 percent of Pyrrhon's lineup – minus only guitarist Dylan DiLella – and has a sound that is less cerebral and more visceral, with the emphasis on brute force as opposed to virtuosity.
But that doesn't make this standard death metal by any stretch. It's death metal done with an old-school black metal aesthetic – sort of Morbid Angel as channeled by Emperor - with grind, thrash, industrial and other elements mixed in from time to time. The overall sound on Seputus' full-length debut – issued more than a decade after the band's founding, and three years after guitarist/drummer Steve Schwegler revived it as he was preparing to leave the military – mirrors the raw, cavernous clamor of early albums by Emperor, Immortal or Enslaved that were recorded at the Grieghallen Studio in Norway.
Man Does Not Give roars to life with the furious “The Fist That Makes Flesh” and a hail of churning riffs and the feral double-tracked vocals of Doug Moore that offer dueling growls and shrieks – an effect that is replicated throughout. The surging “Downhill Battle” and “Desperate Reach” get a hardcore kick from their chunky hooks and shouted choruses of sorts. “Soft Palates Rasp” is more classic tech death, but with some shrill, keening guitaring that almost hints of Voivod. Ditto the more ominous histrionics of “Top Of The Food Chain.”
The already pretty damn intense album grows even more so after the midway point and “Two Great Pale Zeroes” as the songs condense into grindy bursts with the likes of “Attrition Tactics” and the 50-second frenzy of “A Perfect Gentleman” before doing an about-face for its conclusion. “No Mind Will Enshrine Your Name” is easily the most expansive and “avant-garde” track here. At nearly seven minutes, it's mix of Godflesh drone, thunderous tribal percussion and careening tech-death riffing makes for a white-knuckle ride that will leave you queasy by its end.
Man Does Not Give covers a lot of ground within – and just as often outside of – the confines of death metal and takes plenty of unexpected turns. So while Seputus may be a bit easier to relate to than Pyrrhon, their debut is far from, well, an easy listen.