I remember when Florida meant death metal, period. To a west coast kid in the early 90s the state was a frighteningly evil peninsula. Floridian duo Never To Arise do their part to restore this tradition to currency on “Hacked to Perfection”.
This record explodes off the play button with “The Femicidal Impulse”, a Cannibal Corpse/Slayer hybrid of thrashing riffs and guttural vocals. In fact, I’d bet a buck or two that the members of “Never To Arise” cut their teeth, at least in part, on those two bands’ early work; their promo photo appears to place them right in that age group.
Of course, age ain’t nothin’ but a number and all; but the Floridian heyday I alluded to should give you an idea where I’m headed with this. Never To Arise are no-frills: two grown-ass men who know how to make use of the simple and time-honored death metal equation that states: gory cover art + crushing riffs +blasting drums + growls = headbanging squared.
Actually, those drums are programmed. Damn well, too. They’re precise but not too perfect-sounding—which is too rare in contemporary death metal whether a human is pounding the skins or not. They remind me of the programmed drum tracks on Nailbomb’s “Point Blank”.
These guys have some great song titles. “Hyperbaric Torture Chamber”, “Sloppy Surgery”, the ingenious “In Debasement”! They also have some great riffs all over this thing—crunchy, no-nonsense death metal that honors the likes of Malevolent Creation and Deicide, arpeggios à la Cryptopsy, just enough melody to prevent the dreaded death metal ear fatigue syndrome (symptoms: everything blurs into a sort of aural sludge and tracks are indistinguishable from one another).
In spite of the slam-death-worthy cover image, not every song on “Hacked to Perfection” appears to be misogynistic in theme—for a “Misogynistic Acts of Barbaric Sadism” there is also a “Devoured by Wolves.” (However, I don’t have a lyric sheet so those could be woman-hating wolves; I guess I don’t know for sure.) I don’t want to be unfair to Never To Arise; if you listen to death metal you know the theme of violence against women is nothing new. In fact, unless you scrupulously limit your collection to satanic and zombie-themed death metal you’ve got some of that element in there. But if you are not comfortable with that sort of thing then you may not be happy with “Hacked to Perfection”; just fair warning.
I myself have found more reason to avoid the extremes of obsession with misogynistic violence that are available in the death metal scene as I’ve gotten older (and been married, gotten used to having nieces, seen my younger sister grow up, etc.)—having said that, “Hacked to Perfection” has a great deal to recommend it outside of that discussion; it’s not a one-trick pony.
I’m in trouble, I’m impressed, I’m a little sickened, I’m headbanging.