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Review: Infestation – Social Cannibalism

Infestation is a slamming brutal death metal band from Vilnius, Lithuania, having released their album “Social Cannibalism” in February this year. Of all the slam bands I have listened to, I have learned that a slamming brutal death album done right is a hypnotizing experience for the listener. It’s not about following a genre, or deciding which songs stand out the most, it is purely a question of whether the wave length of the whole album matches the listener, and if it does, it is very difficult to listen to one song without listening to the whole album. As a result, it is common for a listener to revisit an album from beginning to end twenty or thirty times in a year alone. The Social Cannibalism album does not just meet the demand, it raises the Slam bar.

The intro track “Predator” is only one minute and three seconds long, yet it is flawless. The first riff grabs your full attention, and the greeting vocals meet your full expectation before interchanging to the next riff that will have listeners bobbing their heads to every chug before the next track starts. Another small yet noteworthy mention is that we can coherently hear and be captivated by the words of the talking sample – too many bands use talking samples in the dull parts of their songs, whereas as slam bands are usually known to put talking samples to good and relevant use.

The title track “Social Cannibalism” is a crowd-pleaser pure and simple. It is here that listeners will come to learn that this album has all the gurgles, BREEs, BLEGHs, pig squeals, breakdowns, grooves and chromatic chugs one could ask for. The song itself is very easy to follow and has smooth riff inter-changes to keep the song interesting for the whole duration, and one small detail I admired in particular is the drum fill just before the entry of the final breakdown that are made slow and heavy.

Introduced with a very nice bass line, “Pork’n’Roll” has a great guitar hook that sling-shots the listener into a big bouncing castle of pig grunts and groove riffs. Like the songs namesake suggests, this is a track I believe fans of pig-grunts will love through and through, simply because the vocalist sounds like a pig that is trying to talk to you and illustrate a point of some sort. Which reminds me… somebody once asked me the difference between slam and deathcore. I didn’t want to explain for too long, so my shortcut was “Imagine a skinny angry guy diving and breaking through the floorboards over and over. That’s deathcore. Now imagine a big meaty pigman relentlessly taunting you while bouncing on a trampoline. That’s slam.” This song is closer to that example than any other slam song I have heard thus far.

This album doesn’t get old for a minute as “Storks of Miscarriage” is not just a BREE track, it is THE BREE track. Leaving the pig behind, the vocalist adapts to what I can best describe as a giant croaking frog jamming out to punk beats, chromatic chugs, and groove variations. Simply put, this album goes on to demonstrate that the vocalist indeed has many ranges and depths, almost like he could have a type of vocal for every track on the album if needed. We need to bear in mind that in this genre, vocalists usually just use (or have) the one style, so having the privilege to hear this many styles on one album is nothing short of commendable.

“Backyard Vomit Escapades” has plenty of groove, and plenty of croak, but the aspect that makes it different from the rest is the appeal it could have towards brutal death metal fans. It’s an interesting genre-confusion that more casual listeners have on the relation between brutal death metal and slamming brutal death. Well, to those of you that don’t know, the rule of thumb goes like this, ‘every slam band is brutal, but not every brutal band is slam’ and hence there are fans of both as well as one but not the other, so in saying that, I think this song can potentially be a gateway for both.

Suddenly the scenery of the album changes as we reach “Needle Whore”, the shortest and most unusual sounding track on the album. Strangely, it’s not even slam, I mean if anything; it has a distinct thrash/black metal approach that completely catches the listener by surprise. This track eliminates any chance of the album being criticized as repetitive – not that previous songs haven’t already accomplished this.

The first forty seconds of “Holodomor” would strongly appeal to deathcore listeners as it honestly feels like a deathcore segment fronted by a slam vocalist. After that, we receive another surprise in the form of a brief guitar solo – something very rare and uncommon in slam. And yes, beyond that it’s a chromatic chug/groove paradise – this leaves the listener wondering how many slam projects each of the band members have previously been in, considering that this whole album delivers to their target audience but also has fresh and original segments.

Now, “Hammer Time” is an incredibly literal title of the track’s intro riff. It has a quick bass doodle, and then wave after wave of groove and chromatic slams that would have Devourment fans stampeding over one another in the moshpit. At this point it’s hard to say which track should be played on a radio or turned into a video clip, but this is definitely the one to show to older generation of slam followers.

“Lunatic Asylum” is the last song on the album. It has a punk beat likely to please hardcore fans, a riff variation, and a guitar solo likely to reel in Suffocation fans if it hasn’t already done so with Backyard Vomit Escapades. Although it goes for just over three minutes, it always feels like it’s gone by very quickly.

“Terminal Station” is the album’s outro track that is fitting to its name. It takes the form of a very concluding yet escalating riff that is slowly played over and over with a dramatic guitar solo that leaves the listener feeling like they have just survived a horror film and arrived at the end of their journey; keeping their life but also the scars and trauma. Personally, I can see myself taking the Social Cannibalism journey again and again many times this year.

Now at some point, I am supposed to be giving some constructive criticism as to how the album can be improved or what future prospects the band should cover in the future, but the fact is, I feel no reason or justification to do either. For one, the band is instrumentally solid, and their vocalist has covered every angle that a slam vocalist should cover in their entire career. The other, well I cannot stress enough as to just how inherently repetitive so many slam albums are without highlighting how original and open-minded this album is, making it the most important slam album of the year.

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