Natron: Grindermeister

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Natron: Grindermeister
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Natron: Grindermeister
Technical Death Metal
Scarlet Records
April 30th, 2012
Release length: 36:03
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Natron has actually existed for quite some time, though outside of Italy and certain circles of underground or obscure efforts, chances are good you may not be aware of them. Formed back in 1992, this Technical Death Metal act issued their debut album Hung Drawn & Quartered in 1997, with the Unpure EP predating it to 1996. Since then, four more albums have been recorded and released, the last being the rather popular Rot Among Us of 2009 through Metal Age Records. For 2012, fans are given their sixth effort, Grindermeister, which is being handled by Scarlet Records. Will it be a brutalizing experience worthy of the import charges, or does their latest recording find itself lost in the many overseas acts that many will never hear from?

Well if the audio quality means anything to you, then paying those charges will be worth it there alone. This album just sounds heavy and brutal right from the start until the very end. Everything is levelled properly to have the right kick necessary for any sort of Death Metal album. The guitars have a lower distortion that carries a sharper edge that finds a blunt edge hammering away at your skull in the form of a very loud bass that often goes into twanging notes, but is podded at just the right level that it blends in with the other chords perfectly, adding more to the darker and brutalizing edge of the music. The drums are perfect as well, especially the snares that sound tight, often having a loud metallic sound similar to the deeper click of the bass kick, just higher in pitch, or a resounding boom from the hollow sounding parts. The cymbals are pulled to the front as well, but are a little lower overall, filling up the background gaps the impressive performance simply can’t fill. Finally there’s the guttural vocals that sometimes go a little into raspy territory, but still have that growling force behind it. Just a little louder than the rest of the instruments, even the already vibrant snares that often stand out the most, this performances matches both the energy of every song, and the technical tenacity well, rounding out the overall intensity well above any listener’s expactations.

A subtle introductory sound bite discussing zombies kicks off “Morgue Feast,” a theme that appears on other songs like at the end of “The Stake Crawlers.” This slams into truly brutal Death Metal, though the commanding drums can create a Grindcore expectation that never happens. The energy is captured perfectly thanks to the louder stringed instruments, as well as the pounding snares and bass kicks, immediately making the listener bang his or her head to the slightly technical foundation that refuses to let go of the listener’s throat. Much of this can be said about “Leechlord,” except for the news sample at the start of “Morgue Feast,” and the amount of intensity and energy that is far greater in comparison. The speed remans about the same, as do the commanding drum patterns, but this track clearly tightens the grip around the throat while trying to tear your face right off. “Undead Awake” is another crushing experience, but it doesn’t really focus on the speed and intensity as much. This still leads to a good song with some creepy elements against blunt riffs that seem to just charge forward with little warrant to the wellbeing of anything in it’s path.

“Quarantine of Leprosy” introduces more groove influenced Death Metal, but it does have chaotic tendencies similar to the two tracks prior. This is done through a gradual toning down of the music, moving towards breakdown territory without actually performing one, then going back towards the faster material to close out the song with. The guitar solo is a bit chaotic as well, but it ends up suiting the atmosphere the band is going for at that point. “Flesh of a Sick Virgin” kicks things off with a record effect over the signature violing stabbing effect from shower scene in Psycho, and like “Morgue Feast,” the music slams right back in. This time it isn’t fast and manical, but uses those same Grindcore-esque drum patterns during bridges, all the while focusing on a deeper, bludgeoning Mortician style pace and sound everywhere else. Unfortunately, the energy does seem to drop in and out when the guitars are a little higher and cause the bass to be less prominant. Much of this carries over to “The Stake Crawlers,” but the music tries to take on more of a horrific stance here and there with some melodic chords, but many main passages that carry a strong groove to them that will have you pounding your head along to the heavily varied rhythms that seem to shift to the point of treading into Progressive terrains.

Unfortunately, much of Grindermeister seems to slow down, as if the two fast paced rampages that kicked the album off had worn the progress down a bit. The energy is often still present, as is the crushing Death Metal, but it’s hard to deny that “Dead Shall Rise” and even “The Stake Crawlers” are just not quite as good or exhillerating as anything from the first half. This isn’t to say the second section of it is bad though, as Natron still manage to make you want to listen and bang your head along even if your enthusiasm does die down a bit. In the end, even with that in mind, Grindermeister is a well executed Death Metal album on both a brutal and technical level. The heavy chords tear away at your skin while the drums decimate whatever is left of your pathetic existence. Clearly this is an effort worth looking into, and will provide countless spins and repeat visits at a later date, making it a must have for your collection at some point.

01. Morgue Feast – 4:37
02. Leechlord – 3:48
03. Quarantine of Leprosy – 4:25
04. Flesh of a Sick Virgin – 4:18
05. The Stake Crawlers – 5:31
06. Undead Awake – 5:08
07. Elmer the Exhumer – 5:03
08. Dead Shall Rise – 3:13
Overall Score: 8/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Scarlet Records.