Monstrosity - _In Dark Purity_
(The Plague, 2000)
by: Alvin Wee (
Contrary to all appearances, Florida veterans Monstrosity aren't finished yet, and _In Dark Purity_ reaffirms that fact with a brutal kick in the butt. Eschewing the grinding brutality of their old days for a crunchier, more technical riff-fest, the band kicks things off impressively with the strongly rhythmic "Destroying Divinity", a blazing collage of semi-melodic riffs and a searing vocal performance by Jason Avery, who easily fills the boots of semi-legend George "Corpsegrinder". Interestingly, Avery proves a more charismatic growler than the current Cannibal Corpse frontman, injecting his roars with a more caustic tone than George's guttural rumblings. More impressive is the sheer intensity of the following track, "Shapeless Domination", the chorus section boasting a thrashy tightness and manic fury missing from all but the greatest acts (read: Vader). In a surprising turn midway through the album, "Suffering to the Conquered" countermands the pure aggression of the previous track with an opening that wouldn't be out of place on an early Gothenburg album. Clearly a nod to old-school Swedish melodic acts like Eucharist, the smooth, epic melodies of the song soar to their highest in brilliant, effortless solos scattered throughout the track. The remaining tracks don't leave much to the imagination regarding these old-timers' abilities, although the slightly technical nature of the riffing detracts somewhat from the brutality of the previous half-hour, but such is hardly noticed after being pounded by the coup de grace, a cover of Slayer's "Angel of Death". What this version lacks in terms of the raw hate of the original, it makes up for in a vastly more nuanced, though still old-school rendition of the classic. Seriously, this stuff spits a venom long missing from the glut of latter-day death/grind endeavors, combining the bone-crushing heaviness of their Morrisound heritage and the dynamic, technical fury of their European counterparts into a mind-blowing mix. There's little more to be asked from a solid slab of death like this (except for better promotion than their somewhat unrecognized second album). At a hefty 50+ minutes, and a cover painting worthy of a full-size vinyl release, this slick digipak will no doubt garner some respectable figures for the ambitious Hammerheart label. And rightly so: both loyal fans of _Impending Doom_ and listeners weaned on newer Swedish acts cannot possibly ignore the power of this release.
(article published 11/20/2000)
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