August 28, 2017

Guttural Secrete - Nourishing the Spoil

By Bryan Camphire. I saw Guttural Secrete perform Friday July 28th, 2017. They traveled from Las Vegas, Nevada to play the fourth annual Chicago Domination Fest. They came out of retirement more or less to play this gig plus a few select others.
By Bryan Camphire.

Cover art by Mike Hrubovcak.

I saw Guttural Secrete perform Friday July 28th, 2017. They traveled from Las Vegas, Nevada to play the fourth annual Chicago Domination Fest. They came out of retirement more or less to play this gig plus a few select others. Just like every movie you've ever seen where the protagonist comes out of retirement to do just one last ill-advised job against all odds, it was enormously entertaining to behold. Seeing these men play under a strobe light, it appeared that they all had twenty fingers on each hand. It was unreal. Having finally seen them perform live, I thought it high time this masterpiece of theirs, Nourishing the Spoil, got a little more praise, if only to fan the flames in hopes of more to come.

But first a few words about the form. Brutal death metal sets itself apart from other types of metal. The attire is different. You're unlikely to see a lot of leather jackets, jean vests, spikes and bullet belts when these groups play live. You'll see cargo shorts, sweats, band logos on socks and snapbacks ...and oh the band logos. If you were to start your own brutal death metal band, discussing its logo might sound like ordering hashbrowns at a Wafflehouse in the southern parts of the United States. You can get your logos scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced and topped. Album imagery is all gore and more gore, with a few exceptions. The style the bands play deviates from one another only slightly - at least on the surface. To me, it's almost like old-school punk in this sense: groups doing their thing, very happy to be a part of this scene, paying homage to their idols, showing deep respect within the community, and at the same time putting forth a fuck-all type of attitude towards the outside world as though we're all going to hell in a handbasket anyway.

Photo by Bryan.

The ethos is unique at a brutal death metal show. Bands are likely to talk about partying (read: imbibing of illicit substances) with such abandon that you'd be forgiven if you felt like you were in an episode of Wayne's World. The music is rife with riffs that are referred to as "slams", meaning, essentially, that they're - gulp - danceable. Moshing is highly encouraged. Moshing, that dance form that is so easily misunderstood as a machismo display of excess testosterone instead of what it really is, which is people losing themselves in music to a near trance-like extent that manifests itself as intensely physical. After all, women like moshing too. Also, crowd surfing happens, to add to the revery and abandon. Bands thank the audience for their energy. Singers are likely to jump into the pit. In these respects, a brutal death metal show has more in common with seeing a band like Fishbone than it does seeing a band like Portal. I think some of these reasons are, sadly, why more people don't seem to take brutal death metal seriously. But, on the other hand, perhaps it's best preserved as a well-kept secret among those in the know. The bands do seem to enjoy not taking themselves too seriously on certain levels anyway.

But then there's the music. It's technical. Unholy hellfire, is it technical. Guttural Secrete reign supreme in this regard. Since acquiring Nourishing The Spoil some four or five years ago, I've checked out more brutal death metal bands than I can count in hopes of finding some whose music can hold a candle to this record. There are but a precious few that I've been able to discover. One is Spain's Wormed. Another is Malta's Abysmal Torment. I saw yet another band open for Guttural Secrete the other night who hold a candle to them in terms of berserk level of songwriting skill. They're called Delusional Parasitosis. Man, I love that band name. The guitarist was wearing the same Guttural Secrete t-shirt I had on at the show. I had to buy one of their shirts out of respect. I digress. My point is that it's really ridiculously difficult to play the music that these guys play, and that bands who are able to do this with extreme finesse are few and far between. I feel like in the time it took Guttural Secrete to write and rehearse this album, they could have replicated painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Nourishing the Spoil is the telos of the brutal death metal sound.

Photo by Bryan.

The singing in brutal death metal can be thought of as the grain alcohol of metal vocals. It's overproof, and that's the whole point. It can knock you on your ass. This is yet another reason that brutal death metal is put on a shelf and ignored instead of closely examined to access its rich potential. Its not for the faint of heart. Mixed into just the right concoction, however, and this stuff can make for a transcendental experience. Fortunately, that's just what the Guttural Secrete does with their singing. It's beyond the pale, and for that reason it fits the tunes perfectly.

Listening to the songs on Nourishing the Spoil is akin to being dropped into the middle of a dark forest and having to fend your way outward with a machete. The tunes operate on their own logic, it's not one you're familiar with because it's unique unto itself. Only the most intrepid listeners will make it through this record unscathed. The sheer intensity of this music rips through you and eviscerates, like the obscene gore on the record's cover.

I have to admit I am a beginner to brutal death metal. Judging by talking to several wonderful people I met at the show, die hard fans seem to live this brutal lifestyle 24/7/365. Regardless of whether you approach this music as a casual listener or as a brutal death metal obsessive, you'll find that this record is in a class of its own. It's impossible to be indifferent to Nourishing the Spoil, and for that reason if nothing else, it deserves respect. Music this monstrous is not to be taken lightly.

1 comment:
  1. awesome review and analysis of Brutal Death. Saw them last night in Brookyln......and it was BRUTAL. Write more