Avulsed, by dint of sheer mongrel, have persisted with the meat-and-potatoes death metal niche they carved out for themselves on Yearning For The Grotesque. Never the most flamboyant or the most original, much like the stately Amby with a little flab sticking out the sides and derriere, Avulsed endure in the face of various fly-by-night trends like a sort of Ol’ Faithful for death metal nerds, erupting at leisurely intervals every few years, plying the same old-same old. There’s something to be said for the hardworking underdog that keeps churning out reliable 30s in the middle order while flinging himself around recklessly on the field. Avulsed never compromised, having long ago settled upon a happy median never destined to be the cynosure of all eyes but one that could always be relied on for an hour of honest, unpretentious gore-soaked death metal.
To lay ears, this is mostly unspectacular, mid-paced music but Avulsed have been developing a peculiar slant to their craft since the early ’00s when they first chanced upon the potential for embedding exquisite melodies inside an otherwise unassuming approach to death metal. An ambiguous description at first, perhaps, seemingly incongruent with the band’s general musical persona but one that achieves a grainier, almost Romero-esque proportion as the album wears on, never more in evidence than on the gorgeous, lush classical ‘Elegy For The Rotting’. Strategically placed in the center of the album, this piece evokes an old world charm of dusty, deserted avenues and false facades, of gently swaying wind chimes and dream catchers.
On either side, however, Avulsed chip away contentedly at a style revealing of their European allegiances, most obviously reminiscent of Dismember‘s work in the early half of their career, leading into the mid-90s plod of Massive Killing Capacity and Death Metal, with a few nods thrown in the general direction of North American chug and grind. Avulsed, though, part amicably with Dismember in the way they insert melody into the overall dynamic and, more elementally, how they phrase and arrange the melody itself; liberally peppering bludgeoning atonal chord progressions with serpentine, harmonic minor-centered lead guitar offshoots, Avulsed develop a voice of their own while simultaneously acknowledging a debt from the past. Appreciative of its limitations yet always observing a healthy synergy between mood, musical nuance, and backwoods brutality, Ritual Zombi is an honest, workman-like death metal album with its heart in the right place.