American debutants, Throat Locust, locate their sound somewhere between the new wave of old school death metal (e.g., Ripped to Shreds) and hardcore (e.g., modern bands that take Obituary as their inspiration). As a listener, you’ll struggle to align their description with the music blasting through your headphones, but that does not detract from the quality of their inaugural demo. The Texans released two singles last year and now package them in a three-track EP in preparation for the next phase of their career.
They might use hardcore and powerviolence as tags on their Bandcamp page, but the quintet operate in a similar death metal paradigm as the likes of Undeath, Gorgatron and Death Chamber. Opener, ‘Death Lurker’, has no lustre, but it piles on the filthy power chords and dramatic drum accents in the intro before Eli Galvan finds a double-kick groove to coordinate the attack. The mix is rough in a deliberate way, as if they wanted to leave the guts and bodily fluids on the coroner’s table. You can hear the Bolt Thrower influence in the animated guttural voice of Gil Perez, and it benefits from the sludgy guitars competing for your attention. The latter are grotesque and out of control, yet the duo of Alex Gregory and Eric Calvert retain hold of them through much deliberation and emphasis on heavy groove. “You deserve my hate – ugh!”, roars Perez, at the end, after a detour of skank beats and noisy whammy bar effects that segue into a messy solo.
‘Corruption & Greed’ saw the light of day in early December last year, and it showcases a glimpse of the band’s hardcore influences in the way Eli Galvan experiments with d-beats at the beginning. But make no mistake: this is death metal with thrash metal roots. Imagine Pantera stripped of their southern rock extravagance and infused with a raw death metal edge. Here, the guitarists employ an ugly distortion designed to pop your ear drums, just like the days when your smiling older cousin used to flick your ear lobes when you turned your back on him. It makes the delightful rock solo at the two-minute mark even more pleasurable. Perez uses double-tracked vocals on this song, but it has the effect of making you want more. Instead, your mind remembers the monotone gutturals in the latter half of the song. An adjustment in pitch towards a mid-register hardcore scream would be most welcome to keep things interesting in this department. Maybe this is where they could do their hardcore influences justice on the next record – surely one of the band members can provide these in a backing vocal capacity?
Perez is much more vitriolic on closing track, ‘Axe Grinder’, even reaching the higher shrieks in the sporadic moments of mouth-frothing fury. His band back him up with Bolt Thrower’s trademark tremolo patterns and spacious double-kick beats. Throat Locust have an eye on the live circuit in the way they keep the decibel levels high and let only the drums breathe in the mix. At this stage of their development, they know it’s important to prove that they have the death metal credibility and understanding of the genre before they can think about a unique angle.
It may be a demo, but Throat Locust have little need to tinker with the sound engineering and mix of future records on the evidence here. Death metal is always more exhilarating when it’s dirty and diabolical, both of which come through in abundance on Dragged Through Glass. A future LP of eight songs would require more thoughtful ways to add variation and could be more of a challenge for the band if they aspire to carve out a niche in an overcrowded field.
Release Date: 06/01/2023
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Death Lurker
Suggested Further Listening: Gorgatron – Pathogenic Automation (2020), Death Chamber – Experiments in Warfare (2021), Aschenvater – Landungsfeldmassaker (2021)