Various Artists

Czech Assault

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This compilation is part of a series on Relapse Records that showcases underground extreme metal bands from various countries around the world, here featuring five (mostly death metal-oriented) acts from the Czech Republic: Imperial Foeticide, Negligent Collateral Collapse, Contrastic, Intervalle Bizarre, and Fleshless. Of the five, the most impressive is Intervalle Bizarre, weighing in with five tracks (including a cover of the influential early grindcore band Terrorizer) of extremely technical, jackhammer-like death metal, comparable in style and execution to such elite bands as Cryptopsy, Cephalic Carnage, and Suffocation. Contrastic stands out among the other bands with its hyperactive mishmash of death metal riffing, electronic/drum'n'bass beats, keyboards, funk guitars, and electronic sound effects. It doesn't exactly always work, but the band's style -- which could be described as a mix of early Mr. Bungle, little-known Relapse grindcore experimentalists People, and perhaps a heavier Slipknot, but with a distinct Czech feel -- is interesting and offers a welcome contrast. Meanwhile, Imperial Foeticide opens the disc with several tracks of blasting, high-speed death metal that suffers from muddy sound quality. Negligent Collateral Collapse distinguishes itself with some of the most absurdly deep and guttural "vocals" that have likely ever been committed to tape; musically, the band dishes out solid (if not brilliantly recorded) death metal that is less fast and intricate than the other bands on the disc -- there are blastbeats here and there, but the songs are generally more mid-tempo (and sometimes almost rock-like) than the others. Finally, Fleshless closes out the disc with (what else?) more death metal, in a particular style that has a darker and slightly more melodic feel than the other bands. On the whole, this is a good and valuable compilation, although one that will obviously appeal to dedicated followers of the genre much more than to newcomers or dabblers.

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