"Excisions of Exorcisms"

by Thor

Diabolic is classic American Death metal, having belched forth from the primordial death metal ooze of Tampa, Florida in the mid-nineties. Strangely, their new album seems to have hopped into a Delorean equipped with a flux capacitor and gotten stranded in the early-nineties. Their style is comparable to early Immolation and Incantation and while those bands were great then and are still forces to be reckoned with now, Diabolic's "Excisions of Exorcisms" is as exciting as twenty year old death metal can be. Honestly, Marty McFly's riffs in "Back to the Future" seem innovative by comparison.

"Excisions of Exorcisms" features nine songs, one of which wholly consists of plinking horror-movie piano combined with backward-dubbed chanting. The opening track, which also happens to be the title track, begins with about 25 seconds of weird noises followed by the only three and half minutes of energetic music on the album. After peaking early, the rest of the album is static, repetitive, and void of impact.

As subsequent songs play on, it doesn't take long to understand exactly how Diabolic approaches their brand of death metal. The riffing and drumming is straight forward and contains no surprises, recalling Incantation's "Diabolical Conquest" as well as elements from fellow Floridian death metallers, Brutality. Raymond James' and Kelly McLauchlin's guitar tones are reminiscent of  the down-tuned and washed-out dirge first perfected on Morbid Angel's "Covenenant" while their solos are short, frequent and schizophrenic. Paul Oulette's vocals are mostly mid-ranged gutturals, phrased conventionally over mid-tempo riffing that's textured by standard speed picking. All of this rests on a percussive foundation comprised of Aantar Lee Coates'  classic single foot 1-2 and 2-1 variety blast beats. In short, everything is mind-numbingly old school.

There are precious few moments on "Excisions of Exorcisms" that deviate from the formula. Among them is the song, "False Belief", which is essentially Diabolic doing doom. Then there are a couple of nearly-dropped grooves throughout the album, but never dropped with any vigor and certainly not from any significant heights. And that's the problem: there's a methodical lack of dynamics in tone and tempo which saps this album of  energy and punch. The few times Diabolic stray from their well-tread path, they never totally commit to it, rendering these instances impotent.

Diabolic is a competent band and they do what they do very well. The problem for me doesn't reside with the execution of their music, but rather the aesthetics. Death metal is a genre in which innovation became very difficult a mere decade into its existence. With very little new territory to navigate these days, the objective has become pushing one's musical dexterity to the absolute limit and/or composing songs that push a visceral primal-brain button, making people reflexively dance counter-clockwise and break things. Unfortunately, Diabolic's "Excisions of Exorcisms" never even makes an attempt to venture forward into extreme metal's few remaining untamed acres.