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Review: Mephistopheles – Eternal Suffering

Mephistopheles is a guttural brutal death metal three-piece from Indonesia, currently signed to WAAR productions. Their EP Eternal Suffering is as a good a title as any whether you’re getting acquainted to metal in Indonesia, or just adding more to the collection.

For a lot of bands, the intro track to an album or EP usually means using a film clip, a gospel-like message, or a very brief harmony to open up for the first track. As a result of this, intro tracks are either tolerated as minor inconveniences to be completely ignored in future, or simple mood setters. This band however, uses an instrumental as an intro track and gets listeners banging their heads before the first song even starts, and once it does, the transition is just perfect.

After a BREE with a drum roll, the first song “Cerebral Palsy” opens with an awesome array of zigzagging arpeggios and punchy snare-driven blast beats, a common brutal death metal trademark. Yet one of the many features that prevent Mephistopheles from becoming a common Suffocation clone is the fact that the song is so easy to follow and listen to. This three-piece has capitalized upon the sweet balance of being technically proficient without leaving the listener feeling bored and disconnected. The vocals however, are another surprise. The use of guttural vocals can sometimes come across as sounding like the vocalist is burping their way through the song, a concept that has had both positive and negative reactions from listeners. In this case, listeners from brutal death metal backgrounds are definitely going to love this approach, which is exactly what the band is aiming for.

The catchiness of “Depreciation” begins with a slower chromatic-like chugging that eases listeners into an irresistible chin-to-chest mosh; a very simple riff sweetened by a few subtly-placed extra notes. Now, isolated bass lines can make or break a segment of a song. This one in particular prevents the riff from becoming repetitive as the vocals come in – very well thought out. As the first verse reaches conclusion, the song starts to transitions into its fast inevitable pace. While brutal death metal is inherently (and often strictly) non-melodic, there is a brief yet undeniable and captivating bridge that would have even Wagner or Beethoven’s approval.

Alas, the title track “Eternal Suffering” is nowhere near as powerful or as catchy as the first three – yes, nowhere as good as the instrumental intro either. I have listened to this EP well over twenty times, and this is the one track that declines. The drum roll at the beginning is actually quite solid, and this is one of the less technical tracks, but there’s no denying that this is one of the weaker songs. It’s not terrible, it’s not even bad… it’s just not as good as the previous ones when listened to in order.

Finally, the last track is a Demigod cover – for those of you that don’t know, Demigod is a respected brutal death metal band from Indonesia also worth checking out. I think it’s up for debate as to whether or not the cover is an improvement to the original, but I will say that Mephistopheles stayed true to their style while remaining faithful to the song.

If I wanted to be a bastard, I could critique that the lyrics are not written in the best English grammar, but we ought to accommodate the fact that (a) They didn’t have to learn English, let alone do the vocals in English in their own country (b) They’re gutturals. You would have been none-the-wiser without reading them. Overall, the Eternal Suffering EP can be best-described as taking a graceful lift-off, a majestic flight in the air, with just a slightly dull descent before achieving a safe landing. This is a must-have for any brutal death metal reaper, or anyone curious as to what the Indonesian metal scene has to offer.

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