California death metal band Dipygus recently hit their tenth anniversary in 2023, so what better way to celebrate that milestone than with a self-titled effort? Self-titled albums are always interesting from established bands, as they often suggest that rather than focusing on a specific lyrical thread or approach that a group is giving you a real representation of all the different styles that make up their core sound. That’s exactly what Dipygus has done here, retaining the filthy and dense sound that their earlier albums offered but pushing their riffs to even greater heights. It’s the type of death metal that makes you feel like you need a shower afterwards, but if you’re a fan of the grime and muck this is an early 2024 highlight.
If you missed Deathooze or Bushmeat when they originally came out and this is your first exposure to Dipygus, expect the filthiest and gore soaked of death metal with some of the crunchy caveman grooves of the earlier US bands. Think of a cross between Autopsy and Impetigo’s griminess but with a bit of Obituary and other like-minded groups from the early days of death metal and you have a good idea what to expect, but Dipygus fuses all these ideas together into something that doesn’t come across as a mere copy. Their self-titled may be treading a similar path as the rest of their discography, but the songwriting has even more twists and turns to offer this time around and alongside the continued presence of the creepy synth work a lot of the material stands out over repeat listens. The group finds a good balance between faster blasts, mid-tempo grooves, and slow burns where the guitar and bass sound like they’re trying their best to forcibly exit a tar pit. “Perverse Termination (Bulb of Force)” is an effective opener that draws you in to the album, beginning with some foreboding synths and a film sample before the guitar and bass come lumbering in with a thick, slower cadence. Other highlights include the floor shattering power of “Monrovia, LR 1990”, “Vipers at the Pony Keg”, and the quick burst of “Rat Lung-Worm” that really amps up the presence of the synth. I also appreciate the dip into full-on Troma gore territory with interlude “Bug Sounds II (Megascolides australis)”, and since the group doesn’t go too heavy on the samples or softer synths elsewhere it ends up being very effective. I was initially concerned that the eleven-and-a-half minute “Sacral Brain” might overstay its welcome, especially as it takes up so much of the album length, but Dipygus pulls it off and transitions over to death/doom territory well. There are a few minor flaws, like the slower break on “Огромный Кальмар (Ross Sea Trawler)” where the instrumentals all fuse together in a messier fashion compared to the rest of the material. But this doesn’t hold back the album too much, and I’ve found myself wanting to dive right back into the sewage and sheer weight of the instrumental work on a regular basis.
With the instrumental tonality being so thick and murky, it’s fitting that the vocals skew towards the low-end, with deep growls that echo over the recording and sometimes get swallowed back up in the ooze. It all fuses together to create an immense amount of power and intensity, as the vocal work lumbers forth like a Kaiju or other monstrosity. Credit should definitely be given to Dipygus’ vocalist Clarisa, as her performance continues to give the group’s music that extra edge that pushes it above some of the others in the genre. The material doesn’t stick completely with the low end for its entirety though, as you do get some higher shrieks and screams at key points to break up the performance. There are also the samples, which don’t appear on every song but fit well with the ones Dipygus has added them into, and this enhances the B-movie feel of some of the music.
This self-titled effort doesn’t drastically change what Dipygus has been doing since their creation, but it makes some meaningful tweaks and offers the band’s strongest writing to date. Once again they’ve found the right balance between Autopsy’s gory and grimy approach alongside the more brutal and caveman type grooves of something like Obituary, but the synth elements and sheer density gives off a slightly different vibe. Prepare yourself to drown in the thick, murky tonality and get bludgeoned by the weight of the riffs, as Dipygus is starting off death metal strong this year. Dipygus is available from Memento Mori, Crypt of the Wizard, and Headsplit Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg