By Dr. Abner Mality

For some reason, the nation of Italy takes a lot of crap when it comes to the subject of heavy metal. Many jokes are made about the country's many fruity prog/power acts like Rhapsody and Labyrinth. Sure, there's a lot of those types of acts in the land of pasta and wine, but there's plenty more to Italian metal and hard rock then that. Only a little research reveals thriving grind, black metal, industrial, doom and psych scenes. And also some very good death metal.

Such a band is Natron, who have been terrorizing hapless Italians since the early 90's. They are in the same vein as fellow overlooked countrymen Gory Blister, who recently blew me away with their record "Earth Sick". Natron is not as technical as the Blister boys, but "Grindermeister" is just a really solid, sick and slamming piece of death metal insanity. "Morgue Feast" starts with the oldest of cliches, the news broadcast from "Night of the Living Dead" many fucking times will we have to hear that again? But once the hammer falls, this is nothing but top notch and well produced death along the lines of Cannibal Corpse, Deicide and Aborted. Technical but not TOO much and always, always delivered with fire and efficiency.

Lots of good meat here for ghouls to feast on. "Leechlord" is just skull-crushing rifferama, the excellent "The Stake Crawlers" provides something a bit more involved but still ripping and "Elmer The Exhumer" starts off as a standard basher but mutates into something surprisingly advanced, with good twin guitar work and even melody. Any of the 8 tracks here is a worthy listen, including the faithful cover of Terrorizer's "Dead Shall Rise".

I'd have to be nuts to say this is a game-changer for death metal, but then I'd be equally nuts to say this is not a strong release. The clever knock of Jagermeister with the cover art is amusing as well. Metal fans, open your ears and bang your heads!