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Paroxysmal Butchering happens to be one of those brutal death metal bands that always caught my attention due to a few separate characteristics that I thought made them somewhat stand out. From their sporadic chromatics, shifting tempos and groggy vocals to the stellar production that surrounds their material, there was a ton to admire about them. But, on the surface, they were slammy as hell. And so, with the passing of a decade or so into their musical career (and the addition of two full-length album releases and a couple of splits), these crusty Californians have finally made a comeback with their third album release, which for some reason initially went under my radar. So here it goes...
Interestingly enough, the band released this new full-length independently as opposed to their previous work titled Human Smasher. Since then, it seems that quite a few changes have taken place, with the inclusion of some new members, new lyrical content as well as a reformed sound to boot. This new album named Amygdala is a seven song offering that takes advantage of its 38 or so minute running time in order to demonstrate a new level of technical prowess and musical maturity that may or may not be an indication that the slam aspect is being abandoned here.
Okay, this one's pretty different from the previous material, which may disappoint some fans expecting straightforward slam, toilet vocals and all the other good stuff in between that Human Smasher and the likes had to offer. For starters, the songs on Amygdala are much more fleshed out and take on an overall fast-paced and oldschool sound of brutal death as opposed to the modern slam traits. There are some guitar solos here and there, and the gutturals aren't as vulgar on here either. Also, the album tends to border more on the techy or melodic aspects of death metal, with some high strung notes, backing atmosphere and slower sections in between. Don't get me wrong, the undertones of the band's brutal death formula is there as well, but the overall focus is on a fast-paced, yet eclectic sound filled with some melodies, shredding tremolos and chords, blackened traits and death metal vibes akin to material like Obituary or Exhumed at times. Songs like 'Discordant Ideations' and the closing tracks, both of which are lengthier and more drawn out compared to the others, really give off somewhat of a charm in the midst of the relentless and structured brutality. Overall, it's more of a mixed bag and one that could be hit or miss depending on the listener. Technically speaking, everything is well produced and onpoint, though.
All in all, this is a pretty divisive release for several reasons and I'm still not sure as to how I feel about it. On one hand, there is much more on display here that is in the way of nostalgic and wholesome riffage in addition to themes that are more thought-provoking as well as more intuitive musicianship all around. On the other hand, however, there is still a bit of an emptiness and feeling of disappointment when it comes to what I came in wanting to hear. Being a huge fan of Paroxysmal Butchering's other works, I was caught off-guard by much of the new structure and elements present here. For better or worse? Only time will tell; but, for now, it's just a decent (even if a bit overly-ambitious) listen.
Fave Tracks: 'Discordant Ideations', 'Halting The Linear Thrust'
For Fans Of: Condemned, Torturous Inception
**This release is available now here!**
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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