Given a proclivity towards the general aesthetic of the holiday, this particular Sleeping Villager has spent these days after Hallow’s Eve in the pursuit of an appropriately visceral soundtrack. Something to maintain a healthy dose of terror in the hearts of my neighbors. Preferably something bloody & skeletal, wearing nothing but the tattered, mildew’d remains of a bygone era. Is that too much to ask? Of course not, because when one asks Rotted Life Records for the goods, Rotted Life delivers, serving death metal delicacies on a maggoty platter. Today we’re dissecting (& digesting) Imitation, the forthcoming 3-track demo from Bay Area death thrashers Laceration.
In the grand scheme of things, the return of Laceration from the dreaded precipice of Everlasting Hiatus has not been a pressing issue in my music listening existence. Their prior efforts (2 demos + an EP + a split,) while by no means bad, is uniformly characterized by a certain quality--let’s call it “aggressively run-of-the-mill.” Despite eliciting some impromptu headbanging, these early efforts are like going to the same haunted house for the 3rd or 4th time. You know it's supposed to be edgy & scary, but predictable jump scares & an absent element of surprise makes for little more than an exercise in averages. Before you jump ship now, let me be clear: I only speak this harshly of so that it's painfully obvious how good their triumphant return actually is. Experiencing Imitation is like going to that same haunted house, only to find that the that the chainsaw-wielding hobo isn’t a paid actor, & that the spring-loaded skeletons have been replaced by genuine cadavers. Here, the stench of rotting flesh overpowers the sticky-sweetness of fake blood. Laceration, in other words, just got...real.
At the end of the day, this isn’t complex stuff, & for that, I love it. Sonically, listen for the calculated immediacy of Mortal Throne-era Incantation, combined with the thrashy sensibilities of Skeletal Remains or Demolition Hammer. Aesthetically, Laceration clearly takes inspiration from a wide gamut of late 80’s, early 90’s death, so in short, there is no shortage of viscera here. Take the title (& opening) track as a prime example--before we’re treated to an evisceration via jackhammer blasts & thunderous riffage, we’re witness to, well, an evisceration. An appropriate opening act, if ever there was. Granted, all this would fall into the bucket of been there, done that, but for several particularities.
Firstly, despite the gory ambiance, Laceration prove remarkably steady-handed surgeons. While many bands on the thrashy end of the death spectrum tend to play fast ‘n’ loose, these boys don’t mess around when it comes to precision. This holds particularly true in the case of Donnie Small’s blistering(ly brief) solos, the sheer intensity of which still catches me off guard 15+ listens later. Also of note is Mike Simon, who pounds the skins with the intensity & precision both of a talented newcomer with something to prove, & an experienced veteran with a reputation to maintain.
Secondly, Laceration can compose a song outside the bounds of a standard slaughterfest. Take (highlight track) Weaponized Dominion as a prime example. Despite a fairly standard structure, in under 4 minutes we’re treated to a full array of abilities, with a short bassy breakdown, thrashy riffage galore, squealing leads, & a particularly punishing chorus. It doesn’t get much better.
On Imitation, Laceration has excelled at trimming the fat. As a result, each (remarkably talented) member is given the appropriate time to shine, & this 3 track demo leaves us wishing for more. Despite the unfortunate brevity, I’ll keep coming back to this haunted house, season after season. Fear not.
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry