REVIEW: BROKEN HOPE – “Mutilated And Assimilated”
Next year marks the 30th year of Illinois’s Broken Hope. ‘Mutilated And Assimilated‘ marks the band’s 7th studio album and 2nd since their reformation in 2012, after a ten year break. Any review of a band with a 30 year history within extreme metal will inevitably talk about the bands past and Broken Hope are a band who have not had an easy ride to get to where they are today, but somehow they have and still remain relevant in an unforgiving world. Such is the tenacity and dedication of founding guitarist Jeremy Wagner that the band have managed to pick up the pieces and somehow move forward after losing two close friends and fellow founding members Joe Ptacek, vocals to suicide, and Ryan Stanek drums who passed away at the untimely age of 42.
The sound found on Broken Hope’s debut album ‘Swamped In Gore‘ noted for being the first death metal album recorded digitally was a brutal and punishing form of death metal that laid the foundations of modern brutal death metal. The band had a knack for and were capable of locking into a mid paced groove which when combined with Joe Ptacek’s deep, guttural vocals, created a sick sound with all the impact of a freight train slowly plowing through your head. Their brand of Death Metal could be deceptively viewed as straightforward and therefore never quite achieved the same level of notoriety as some of the more bigger bands of the time. Another band who remain in the shadows like so many great underground bands. Take the band’s classic ‘The Bowels Of Repugnance‘, which combined the bands unforgiving and brutal riffs with some well thought-out and crafted acoustic interludes and the aforementioned Ryan Stanek’s greatest drum performance. An album which should be heard by every serious death metal fan at least once.
Moving on to the new album and the band that Broken Hope has become. New member Damian Leski also of Gorgasm maintains the tradition of low-pitched, bowel churning and down right, deep death metal growls, just like Joe Ptacek would vomit vile into the microphone back in the day. Listen to the growl during the mid-section of ’’The Carrion Eaters’’, for proof to waiver any doubt that you may have. The band has maintained a crucial element to their sound and dynamics which they use to great effect and that comes in the shape of the interludes, mainly here in the form of clean guitar which works not only as a respite form the brutality but also in creating a creepy atmosphere. The best example of this is the introduction to ’’Malicious Metalholes’’, which has an eerie feeling which creates a sense of unease right before the mayhem and madness begins and then again for the outro. ’’The Meek Shall Inherit Shit’’, great song title and sentiment starts proceedings off in brutal fashion but quickly showcases some of that groove which gives the band’s sound that extra edge, right before the first of some killer solos which add a certain amount of depth to the album in a genre where it can often be difficult to hollow out a unique sound. Next up ‘’The Bunker’’, is a lesson in brutal death metal and satisfies your compulsion for extremity which if you find yourself listening to a Broken Hope album is one of the main reasons you came. If Metallica’s ‘’One’’, was the aftermath of the war then this song lands you smack bang in the middle of the bombarding onslaught and hail of fire before spitting you out at the other end. With the next song, the title track ‘’Mutilated And Assimilated’’, Broken Hope pay tribute to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic, ‘’The Thing’’, during which they slow things down and give a fine example of how death metal can maintain a groove, while keeping the brutality and intensity levels right up there.
The production while solid is a little clicky and digital sounding at times but this could be a problem with the medium of mp3 rather than the album itself, another reason to buy the album in physical format folks, not necessarily a bad thing it is just a matter of how you like your Death Metal sound. A minor complaint which does in no way hinder the listening experience. Another complaint you may find is the lack of anything new being presented and a sense that really you heard all of this before. The band, make up for this by putting their focus and energy into the songwriting which is top notch. Is the album essential no but I have no doubt in my mind that fans of the band and brutal Death Metal will dig this album.
While the album does not offer up or bring anything new to the table it does however present, solid and satisfying brutal Death Metal. You get thick and brutal lacerating guitar riffs, drenched in savage musical violence, played on none other than Slayer axeman Jeff Hanneman’s personal guitars, riffs that would put a great big smile on Jeff’s face. Pounding and pummeling precision drums which cut and hack at your ears with little or no mercy. An album for the dedicated and lifelong brutal death metal fans. The album while it could appeal to casual listeners of the genre, it is however among those who have a deep understanding and respect for the music that will appreciate and get the most out of this album.
Nothing new to be found here but a solid and satisfying brutal death metal album. The album while it could appeal to casual listeners of the genre, it is however among those who have a deep understanding and respect for the music that will appreciate and get the most out of this album.