Devourment – Obscene Majesty
Reviewed: August, 2019
Released: 2019, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
OBSCENE MAJESTY is one sick, nasty mess of an album. But then again, Devourment has always been one sick, nasty mess of a band. With a history of classic jams like “Molesting the Decapitated”, “F@#k Her Head Off” and “Babykiller” (their version of “Living After Midnight”), any new music from the band comes with an expectation of unflinchingly brutal death metal and the kind of intentionally offensive depravity that makes Cannibal Corpse look like the Jonas Brothers. Their first new material in 6 years, OBSCENE MAJESTY, delivers on both of those fronts, but in not quite the way you’d imagine.
A lot has happened in the death metal world since 2013’s CONCEIVED IN SEWAGE. It’s not just enough anymore for bands to slap together a bunch of slam riffs and over-the-top gore and call it an album; it’s been done, and the fans demand more from the scene’s elder statesmen. In that respect, the 10 new tracks on OBSECENE MAJESTY take the higher road. Tracks like “A Virulent Strain of Retaliation” and “Profane Contagion” clock in at over 6-minutes, which is basically Dream Theater territory in this genre, and most of the casual misogyny from past records has been abandoned for more of the serial killer, life is meaningless, death is real type manifestos. Definitely makes for a more “mature” sounding Devourment, but still with a bountiful amount of blast beats, machine gun riffs, and breakdowns.
As far as intentionally offensive depravity, that’s all sonically induced on OBSCENE MAJESTY. While reaction inducing lyrics or song titles don’t create much shock and awe anymore in 2019, the production, mix, and general performances are fugly enough to instigate a real physical repulsion. The guitars are tuned down to Z, Ruben Rosas vocals are two steps below guttural, and there’s a swath of distortion that saturates the entire recording – all of which mashes together and fights for priority in the mix. It’s an almost Mortician worthy wall of noise that requires a real effort to focus on the songs. The solution to that? Play it loud…play it very, very loud. Not through a set of air pods, not through your laptop, but through a set of speakers that can handle the decibel range and that will inevitably scare your neighbors. In that particular medium, OBSCENE MAJESTY sounds f@#king HUGE.
OBSCENE MAJESTY isn’t my favorite DEVOURMENT record, but it succeeds in keeping the brand relevant and in showing that even they are still capable evolution (albeit a slight evolution). And at the end of the day, any new music from Devourment is still better than not having any new music from Devourment. OBSCENE MAJESTY isn’t an album for delicate ears, and it’s probably not an album for anything less than the die-hard Devourment fan base – which is really about as brutal as you can get.