Australian quartet, Mental Cavity, are on a mission to churn out the nastiest onslaught of crusty death metal known to man. They’re not the first to see the value in infusing extreme metal with the awesome violence of hardcore and punk as evidenced by the continued popularity of grindcore as an underground art movement. But these boys understand that modern death metal needs an injection of adrenaline to stay relevant for the next generation, and on Mass Rebel Infest they make an admirable attempt to explode through your speakers like a platoon of hand-throbbing infantrymen brandishing their bayonets.
With Mental Cavity, it’s all about hand-to-hand combat rather than hiding behind a machine gun. Opener, ‘Interred, Awoke’, is a sludgy affair like Morbid Angel ramping up the doom levels before launching into a hardcore noise assault. The guitar distortion carries an extra layer of fuzz thanks to the ear-piercing volume and competition from the grinding bass in aiming for EQ supremacy. Close your eyes and take out the low guttural vocals, and it could be a death metal song and a crust-punk song. The same phenomenon occurs on ‘Fractured Anvil’, only this one belongs on the debut album from Go Ahead and Die. You’re about to ask how much of this qualifies as grindcore when they hit you with 01:45 seconds of the face-smasher that is ‘Mask Tearer’. You’ll hear Obituary in the The End Complete era, but you’ll also hear NY hardcore and a surprise showcase of classic rock chords near the end. Uh, what the fuck?
Twenty-five minutes of this bludgeoning musical abortion should be an ear-bleeding but enjoyable experience for the veterans of this type of music, but you realise at track number four (‘Downtrodden’) that the sonics on this record suffer from a major defect. Mental Cavity recorded this record at their own expense using their own equipment, and you can tell it was a learning curve for them. What the hell happens to the volume on ‘Place of Ease’ and ‘The Portal’? We’re talking a thirty percent reduction in total decibel levels as if another band walked into the studio, adjusted all the control settings, and substituted inferior and cheaper microphones for the existing ones. In the middle of this surprise drop in noise is ‘Anointing the Filth’, a song that returns to the engineering level of the first three tracks and crushes your windpipe like Sick of It All covering an Autopsy song.
The ending to the album is just as strong as the beginning with the enthralling Morbid Angel grind of ‘Infest’ giving way to an admirable cover of Cro-Mag’s classic, ‘It’s the Limit’. Yet on an album that should have no trouble achieving an 8 out of 10, we have no choice but downgrade it due to the sonic failures that affect at least four of the songs on offer. The lesson is clear: re-record your tracks if you notice that some of them drop below the production standards of your finest.
Mental Cavity are worth your time, like all bands on the excellent Creator-Destructor record label. But let’s hope they can master the art of the audio mix and give us something befitting of their awesome death metal/hardcore approach on their next effort. The music is strong, but the technology behind it is substandard.
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Record Label: Creator-Destructor Records
Standout tracks: Interred, Awoke; Mask Tearer; Anointing the Filth
Suggested Further Listening: Kruelty – Immortal Nightmare (2020), Gatecreeper – An Unexpected Reality EP (2021), Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (2020)