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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Devast - Apocalyptic Human Extinction


Devast is (at the moment) a three-man brutal death metal outfit founded by guitarist Idir and drummer Hellspawnblaster in 2006 in Algiers, Algeria and they later moved their home base to Argentina. They went off on a flying start with a demo, a five-way split and a full-length under their belt within two years. Despite several personnel changes, among which the departure of Hellspawnblaster in 2007, the band kept making name for themselves by touring extensively until it came to a grinding halt in 2012 due to reasons within the members’ personal lives, causing a split-up. Founder Idir moved to South America where he tried to resurrect Devast in which he succeeded, resulting in the release of a single at the end of 2013. In 2014 the line-up was completed, clearing the way for a restart. Again a substantial amount of personnel changes riddled Devast’s existence, but in between those they still managed to come up with new material, the latest of which is now up for release. It’s their third full-length called ‘Apocalyptic Human Extinction’. The term full-length has to be used loosely here, since the 10 songs only span 22 minutes.

Let’s start off with a word of warning: If the title hadn’t pointed you into the right direction already then a short look at the tracklist should delicately help you figuring out what ‘Apocalyptic…’ is about. With titles like ‘Triumphal Colossal Devastation’ and ‘Mass Pandemic Of Corpses’ it’s pretty obvious the demise of the human race is the subject here, something that perfectly fits the focal points of Devast’s music and lyrics which are rooted in the apocalyptic, destructive concept of the human world and, as they state themselves, its members’ omnipresent hatred and madness. What better way to soundscape such horror than converting it into a brutal death metal symphony, which is exactly what Devast must have thought and therefore did. ‘Apocalyptic…’ is a 22-minute massive wall of aggressive, raging yet at times melodic music with some progressive touches that will smack you in the face. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Anyway, I have heard thousands of releases and, since they are inevitable in a lot of releases, thousands of intros and I still fail to see the use of the vast majority of them. Most of the intros are undefined or meaningless and seem to serve no other purpose than prolonging the total playing time. Here too we start with such an undefined intro which, I am merely assuming here, is the sound of an apocalypse rising. Anyway, you might as well enjoy it, since it’s about the only rest your ears will get throughout the album, because after it died out all hell breaks loose when ‘Chaotic Proliferation’ unleashes its power on the hopefully due to the title and track list alarmed listener. And hell is here to stay. At 2:45 it’s the second longest (!) song on the album and it’s an excellent indication of what lies ahead. Aggressive riffs alternated with at times seemingly flailing guitar work that nevertheless somehow fits the bill, relentless high-speed drum work, ditto bass lines that have their flailing moments as well and a grunt that could easily crack a concrete wall. How much more massive and angry can it get and, probably more important, how much more massive and angry does it need to be? The boys seem to be ok with it, considering the fact they keep this up for almost the entire album, and so am I to be honest. Any rougher and it would be chaos.

The main cause for concern when it comes to extreme music like this is that it either sounds all alike or sounds like a pointless wall of random sounds. Neither is the case here. Devast’s undoubtedly skilled musicians manage to keep the differences between both the songs and the respective instrument lines clearly audible, something the production is credit to as well of course. The progressive touches provide the, in my opinion, in this genre highly necessary variation in both rhythm and sound, making ‘Apocalyptic…’ a musical adventure that positively surprised me. There is not one song on this release that caught my attention in a negative fashion, they all pass the quality test with flying colors, but especially the title song triptych is noteworthy. Try playing the three songs separately in sequence, it’ll give you a great insight of who and what Devast is and stands for.

Extreme music like this is tough to digest for many and therefore difficult to judge. I personally have to be in the right mood to enjoy it which I not always am. However, when I look at this objectively there’s only one logical and right conclusion: If you’re not into the brutally extreme or extremely brutal types of metal I advise you to run while you can and to never look back, because you will not enjoy this. However, if you do like either of those styles, you should definitely give this release an honest try. Chances are you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself. These guys know what they want and what they do and they’re good at it too.

Written by Henric van Essen

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