(DGR reviews the new album by the Greek band Murder Made God.)
There is a part of me that always becomes excited when I feel I’ve somehow gone on an archeological dig and made an incredible world-shifting discovery. Recently, I feel like I’ve found 2016’s brutal death metal common ancestor, or for lack of a better term, that with Murder Made God’s recent April release Enslaved, I have found brutal death metal’s median — the throughline casting its way through the whole genre.
Enslaved marks the Greek brutal death metal horde’s second release of their career, with its predecessor Irreverance having hit in late June of 2013. Enslaved, which is out via Comatose Music, sounds like it took a look at the brutal death genre, saw the various directions in which it has been splitting off recently — from the hyperblasting sect to the gorier subsections — and decided instead to shoot directly down the center.
Murder Made God have created a disc in which there are zero frills, instead just executing the genre as competently as it has ever been done, crafting an album that is the biggest piece of zero-subtlety red meat for genre fans I have crossed paths with in some time.
From moment one of Enslaved you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for with Murder Made God. Barring a handful of songs in which the lyrics are the differentiating factor, most of Enslaved’s 30-plus-minute run is spent kicking out grinding guitar riff after grinding guitar riff, buttressed by a quick-moving rhythm section that worms its way through each song and then blasts them all to hell and back.
Enslaved sounds massive, with beefy grooves from front to back, with nary a break taken in between. There isn’t a song on here that shoots past four minutes; in fact, the divide between songs laying around the two-and-a-half-minute mark and the three-and-a-half-minute mark is a pretty even split.
“Victims” and the title track are the first two songs on this disc and both of them are around the two-and-a-half-minute mark, and basically wind up sounding like a bull fight. Both are quicker-moving songs whose differences are subtle at best and could best be viewed as one five-and-a-half-minute death metal whirlwind. Really, one of the few differentiators that tell you you’ve actually gone past “Victims” is that verses of the song are no longer punctuated by a low-grunted “Victims” by vocalist George Triantafillou.
Arguably, there are a more fun couple of pairings than the front two later on in Enslaved. The palm-muted chug-heavy grooves of “Depression” is probably the only time when Murder Made God let you breathe a bit and instead just drill out a mid-tempo headbanger. “Depression” is built upon a wall of that style of groove, though, and it’s difficult to listen to it and not feel the need to be moving.
However, the following track “Assassines!” is one of Enslaved’s real highlights. “Assassines!” is more in the vein of the album’s opening tracks, which means it is basically the archetypal Enslaved song, but the combination of grooves and buzzing leads on “Assassines!” is the sort where you can hear that Murder Made God basically turned all of Enslaved into nine permutations and a groove track.
Before that double pairing, though, is a song that is just kind of neatly tucked away at track 3, which is “The Titan, The Fighter, and The Thief”. It earns points mostly for the buzzing lead section that reveals itself about halfway through the song, and also for the chorus parts of the song — the chorus is obviously the song title, but delivered in a very percussive manner, which gives it the effect of getting stuck in your head rather easily.
A percussive vocal element is actually a large part of Murder Made God’s sound, and it becomes increasingly apparent as Murder Made God attempt to differentiate the songs from each other. But it does lead to a lot of the more punchier deliveries being the ones that get lodged in one’s grey matter.
Enslaved does include another interesting event, one that is kind of rare: I’ve found that the best song on the disc is actually its closer, “Involuntary Servitude”. Like “Assassines!”, it is a highlight track that takes the formula Murder Made God use for much of the disc and hit it on every count. It has the slightly over two-and-a-half-minute song length, the hammering assault on the drums, and the hyper-quick bass and guitar shredding section — but it’s the combination of how those things move on “Involuntary Servitude” that makes the song interesting.
It has the most percussive feeling and it’s also the most deathgrind-sounding song on Enslaved. It is also a very prompt song, ending almost as quickly as it begins — with the album then snapping over to the breathless beginning of “Victims” again, meaning that Enslaved can quickly be spun multiple times, and at a certain point you barely notice that you’re on the fifth or sixth repeat.
It’s that ease of indulging multiple repeats that I’ve found has been the reason that I enjoy Murder Made God’s latest so much. Yes, it is a stunningly no-frills and straightforward album; track one and track ten are essentially two sides of the same coin, and in a way you could argue that Enslaved is oddly symmetrical in terms of its track flow. But jamming every brutal death metal trope into thirty minutes also means Murder Made God are working within some well-defined confines, and yet the band manage to do that without getting boring.
The handful of truly awesome songs mixed in with the rest of the good-to-great tracks really carry a listening session with Enslaved, and by being so straightforward, this album makes an excellent default listen. Have no idea what you’re looking for but need a quick hit of something heavy? Murder Made God have a disc for you.
Every year tends to have a couple releases like this, where the band isn’t really pushing the boundaries of the genre, but what they do within those boundaries is surprisingly effective. At thirty minutes, Enslaved is a sleek beast and one that could lock in especially well with genre fans and people just seeking a half hour of crushing music alike.
You can order Enslaved at this location. Stream three songs below.