Gutslit‘s brand of groove-oriented brutal death metal is at its most potent when they forget they’re supposed to bring the big slams. Like most music of this ilk, the riff is the focal point here, subject to multiple iterations that shape the structure of the song; each pattern is arranged to repeat itself like clockwork, then disposed of forever as the band moves on to the next motif. As such, songs display little evolution in theme; these aren’t story-telling devices as much as hard ball-peen strikes to the head, gratuitous in intent and execution. To the band’s credit, the music is played competently enough but Skewered In The Sewer‘s niche is one that could’ve benefited from an even louder production; the violence intimate to this genre is somewhat compromised by an oddly muffled sound that doesn’t quite emphasize the tonal aggression of the music.
There is a palpable rap-like rhythm to this sort of heavy music, especially in its approach to slower passages. Like a lot of rap, these parts are designed with mass acceptance in mind, catering to the least common denominator in metal audience intelligence. It serves to note that all-time great death metal breakdowns – derived from an acute study of traditional hardcore – on songs like Suffocation‘s ‘Liege Of Inveracity’ and Cryptopsy‘s ‘Crown Of Horns’ never outstayed their welcome, dipping into a ferociously individualistic change of tempo for just a moment before returning to the main thread of thought. Gutslit, however, don’t exercise enough control over the composition of these sections in terms of phrasing and duration, allowing muscle memory and an unflexing mindset to supercede their actual relevance to the greater context of the song.
Suited to the percussive nature of the music, faster riffs show admirable right-hand dexterity, favouring thrash-based downward strums that keep step with the programmed beat underneath. One senses the bass has more to do than is evident, its fevered writhing rendered virtually silent by the loud guitars and drums. In much the same manner, Gutslit do a lot of things right without truly asserting themselves as a force of nature; taken apart and recalibrated at a micro-level, there is a real chance that this collection of songs could amount to something more than an also-ran. Unfortunately, at the moment, that is all the band has to hang their coats on.