Lexington, Kentucky duo, Misanthropik Torment, do not hide their artistic motivation. Their mission statement is a unique one. In their words, their “sole purpose is to stand against tyranny and advocate for the execution of all terrorists, alongside rapists and paedophiles.” Using the medium of music to gain support for such a campaign guarantees no extra awareness when that message comes wrapped in the transgressive filth of extreme metal. Depending on the sources, Ecdysis could be their tenth album since 2019 (Encyclopaedia Metallum) or their sixth (their PR company). They self-release new material in response to events that outrage them (see singles such as ‘19 Children Dead! Fuck The Police!!’ and ‘Kill the Tryant (VLADIMIR PUTIN)’), and they take pride in discussing topics other artists would rather leave in the long grass. Do they let the music do any of the talking, or is this as remedial as an Anal C*nt record?
One thing indisputable on this album is the passion of vocalist and lyricist, Erick Draven (aka Erik Leviathan). This time he has organised religion and its pernicious hold on the public institutions of America in his sights. Underneath the rhetoric is a competent metal experiment conducted by multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Nesbitt. Opener, ‘Master and Slave’, may sound like a CD-R demo from 2002, but Draven’s gluttonous high-pitched shriek lends an extra layer of malice to the blackened death metal assault. His words throb with disdain for humanity’s need for an omniscient deity to explain the uncertainty and risk of the future: “Will this idiocy ever be laid to rest?/ Silence the Iron hand oppressing that which is not meant to be oppressed!/ If this is what you call humanity, the Gods are simply not impressed!” You might liken him to a vigilante Dani Filth motivated by the political populism of the street rather than the esoteric works of H.P. Lovecraft.
It’s true that Draven makes it difficult to see past his acerbic tongue before you even listen to this album, but one should not overlook the music behind him. The title track shows a good appreciation for the dissonant blackened doom metal of modern Darkthrone, while ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’ embraces the noise of grindcore and the muscle of industrial metal with cut-throat guitar syncopation. Draven is not a one-trick pony, either. Listen how he switches from hysterical screaming to a deep guttural throat abrasion as if transitioning from Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) to John Gallagher (Dying Fetus) in less than five seconds. ‘Somnium Mortuus Est’ mixes industrial groove riffing with gratuitous black metal. It could reach the high standards of Anaal Nathrakh with a bit more time in the studio.
Unfortunately, Misanthropik Torment pay the price for putting spontaneity and urgency before craftsmanship in the last quarter of this record. Their remarkable productivity blinds them to the realities of what they need. Keeping more money in the kitty for professional mastering services would be helpful. The mix here is amateur, which can be problematic when you aim for the thrust of an industrial sound to lay the foundations for the metallic mayhem. Closing track, ‘Karmatic Retribution’, sounds too close to the main riff in Slayer’s ‘God Hates Us All’. Some of the mechanised aggression in ‘Believe in Nothing, Question Everything’ will remind you why Morbid Angel’s experiment with industrial music ended after one disastrous album in 2011.
Erick Draven and Jonathan Nesbitt have the courage and the enthusiasm to give the metal elite a kick up the backside. There’s nothing dull or predictable about Ecdysis, but the flaws in its musical execution cannot be ignored. One assumes it will be a short wait for the next LP to arrive, in which case they can make some immediate fixes for their next public offering.
Release Date: 14/02/2023
Record Label: Earache Digital Distribution / Misanthropik Records / Kvlt und Kaos Productions
Standout tracks: Master and Slave; Monkey See Monkey Do; Somnium Mortuus Est
Suggested Further Listening: Acephalix – Theothanatology (2022), The Machinist – I Am Void (2020), Xygrbryrx – Cunning Punts (2022)