It's not always obvious why particular bands end up becoming vastly more popular and acclaimed than their peers, particularly within subgenres that seem to abide by relatively strict rules. Brutal death metal has no shortage of heroes at this point, of course, and you only need to check out new albums from the likes of DISENTOMB and VITRIOL to be reassured that the extreme end of the scene is in the safest of bloodied hands. But even amidst such a tsunami of high-grade brutality, the arrival of a new VISCERAL DISGORGE album feels like a particularly big deal. Despite only having released one album thus far, the Maryland crew are firmly established as a benchmark band for the entire scene: one listen to that album, 2013's "Ingesting Putridity", should explain why. At the first time of trying, VISCERAL DISGORGE sounded bigger, better and nastier than pretty much everyone else, with shrewdly smart production values and a level of insistent groove that decimated the competition. The only major problem facing the band right now is that the brutal DM world has been undergoing a huge surge in quality and quantity recently, which means that "Slithering Evisceration" really, really needs to be one of the death metal albums of the year. Which, perhaps inevitably, it is.
After an obligatory nausea-inducing intro, "Fucked into Oblivion" could hardly be a more effusive opening statement. Frontman Travis Werner's recent hints that the new VISCERAL DISGORGE material would be harder, faster and more brutal are instantly confirmed: this is insanity, albeit immaculately produced and seemingly orchestrated insanity. While many young bands in the scene mischievously (and understandably) edge towards deathcore tropes, these guys are old school to the bone, and a song as untamed and breathlessly extreme as this says it all about their commitment to underground ethics. That said, when VD do drop into one of their trademark grooves, it's hard to think of another band that do it with such swing and swagger. Breakdowns in songs like "Saprogenic Deformation" and "Necrotic Biogenesis" definitely tap into and exploit that near-comical pre-pit spider-sense of 'Oh fuck, here we go!' but there is always a brain-spinning blizzard of blastbeats and churning dissonance just around the corner, as tempos are juggled like fiery chainsaws and every kick drum detonates like a dropkick to the chest.
Fans of "Ingesting Putridity" and its acrid world of obnoxious gore may feel slightly discombobulated when faced with the new conceptual slant of VISCERAL DISGORGE's lyrics, but it's hard to deny that these songs — which focus on themes of cosmic horror, with all the offal-drenched surrealism that they generally entail — feel even more brutish and unapologetic than their predecessors. Masters of jaw-shattering impact and brevity, only one of these songs exceeds four minutes in length (gruesome closing epic "Transfixed in Torture") and with a total duration of 32 minutes, "Slithering Evisceration" amounts to an imperious display of fat-free creativity. It's also one of the most ridiculously exhilarating half-hours of music that 2019 will provide: just listen to "Absorbed by the Swarm", a decent contender for this record's adrenalized apex, and try not to pull a death metal face. I fucking dare you.