Coffins - Buried Death review
01. Under The Stench
02. Buried Death
03. Cadaver Blood
04. Altars In Gore
05. Mortification To Ruin
06. Deadly Sinners
07. Purgatorial Madness
08. The Frozen Styx
Abrasive: this single word summarizes what Coffins have achieved with its latest album, "Buried Death." All aspects of this release - the music, the lyrics, the vocals, the production - envelop the listener in an atmosphere of grime and filth, so comprehensively that it is impossible for this not to have been the impact that the band was intending when it created this grotesquery.
Coffins have typically been categorized as a Doom/Death outfit, and while this description is accurate, it is not comprehensive. They bear more in common with Death than other genres, and while the slow-to-mid-tempo grooves lead one toward a Doom classification, the rhythms on this release frequently call to mind mid-80's punk. The drumming, in particular, makes little use of blast beats that have become a Death metal staple, on instead rely heavily on two-four tom/snare pounding more common to stripped-down punk (think of the Ramones during their "Too Tough to Die" period). Similar restraint keeps the lead guitar from getting out of control, as the solos are not of the dexterous variety found in more technical Death metal, but rather tend to rely only on a handful of notes from the low end of the neck. This predilection for simplicity over pretentious virtuosity sets the tone throughout.
The guitar and bass are both ultra-downtuned and ultra-distorted. Special recognition must be given to the production work, which is very gravelly. The result is a sound with a grimy, dirt-under-your-fingernails quality to it. While not the cleanest sound possible, the job done here fits the music, to the extent that with a different engineering and mix, the effect that total package has on the listener would have been unforgivably compromised.
The vocals here are a special treat for fans of guttural Death metal. Guitarist/vocalist Uchino delivers a belching performance that sounds like it was painfully wrenched out of him. While many practitioners of this vocal style ferociously bark their grunts and growls out, Uchino seems almost to be the victim of his vocals, as if he were vomiting uncontrollably. Only in a coarse musical performance like this could such a statement be considered a compliment.
Composition-wise, the influence of Black Sabbath is unmistakable. Droning riffs and psychedelic solos, with frequent bending on the low strings, immediately call Tony Iommi to mind. "Mortification to Ruin" is probably the most Sabbath-like track, with its downtempo, crushing opening riff, and its bleak, despondent solo. Similarly, "The Frozen Styx" opens with a distorted bass intro, leading into slow riffing and plodding drum work that conjure Sabbath at their most epic.
This is ugly music, even by Death metal standards, and it is deliberately so. With its interesting amalgamation of 70's proto-Doom structure, 80's Punk sensibility, and 90's Death metal morbidity, Coffins have created the metal equivalent of Frankenstein's monster - all of the pieces fit together, and they all function, but the resulting creature is not pretty to look at. And like the classic tale, this release confronts the listener with the less pleasant aspects of our world, and we find ourselves unable to turn away.
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