Disfigured Narcissus

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Gutworm have many of the same influences as their contemporaries -- '80s thrash, '90s groove and death metal, Meshuggah, and Pantera. But this U.K. band stands out from its peers with smart songwriting and surprising depth. For sheer aggression, Gutworm stand on par with the likes of Lamb of God, Thine Eyes Bleed, and Chimaira. Unlike those bands, though, Gutworm draw listeners into songs with subtle hooks and soulfully wrenching tonalities. After a hard-charging three minutes, the title track drops into tender, big-hearted jangles that would make Isis jealous. "Imperfect Harmony" also flashes sad, abstract chords, draping itself in magnificently bittersweet melodies. "Omniscient Dreams" makes like early Meshuggah, jabbing sharp riffs into futuristic thrash, leavened occasionally by doom-filled chordal edifices. Mutated thrash also powers "Fires That Burn," a drumming tour de force of thrash polka beats, death metal blastbeats, and tasty cymbal work. With its interplay of sheet-like textures and syncopated riffs, "Scrape the Blood (Off the Face of Life)" brings Chaos A.D.-era Sepultura into the 21st century. The abrasive screams are a bit faceless, and even at only 49 minutes, the record feels a little long. That's probably because it's too much of a good thing; it's one of the better metal albums of 2007 that nobody heard.

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