Escarnium
Excruciating Existence

Fans of the slightly more brutal style of traditional death metal will surely gobble this one up and praise it for all its blood-soaked, gory glory. Excruciating Existence, the debut full-length album from Brazil’s Escarnium, is everything a fan of this genre of metal loves: it’s guttural, has crunching guitars, it’s straightforward, without frills, without finesse, etc.

However, there is a lot to be desired with Excruciating Existence simply for the fact that it offers little else other than being a filler album until the likes of Suffocation, Incantation, Sinister, Autopsy (though Autopsy just released their compilation album) and the like unleash their brand of death metal upon the masses. Literally nothing on this album is unique in any form; it’s basic paint-by-the-numbers death metal that has been done a billion times. Working in Escanrium’s favor, though, is the fact that this sort of throwback, retro style of traditional death metal has become en vogue again so this release has come out at just the right time.

“Self Proclaimed Messiah”, “Slaves of an Ending Fate” and “Covered in Decadence”, all songs from their Rex Verminorum EP, have made it to the full length but nothing much has changed from those versions to these. The remaining six tracks all follow the same blueprint of the aforementioned songs, though nothing truly stands out as the cornerstone or anchor of the bunch.

While none of the nine songs on Excruciating Existence are lousy, they just don’t possess the sort of “it” quality to make them stand out in front of the pack. To make matters worse, the songs suffer from a horrible case of production woes; the powerful drumming of Nestor Carrera has been shot dead in the water thanks to a terribly sterile sound. His drums, particularly the kick drums, have that utterly annoying and frustrating pitter-patter sound to them. His double bass, rolls, and fills have been sucked of energy and voracity because of the final mix. Also, the duel guitars of Eucini Santy and Victor Ellian have that wooden/muffled sound to them, much like Obituary’s underwhelming Back from the Dead record.

This isn’t the fault of the musicians (we assume), but the meat and potatoes of what would otherwise be a moderately splendid album has been castrated in the studio. It’s unknown if this was the direction Escarnium was aiming for, but methinks the band is probably a savage in the live setting. There are some quality old school death metal licks scattered throughout the record, but the sheer lack of originality, coupled with a final mix that weakens every instrument, makes this only a so-so release.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
May 3rd, 2012

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