March of the Parasite
reat pains have been taken by the metal music press to fix Laethora’s sound with a precise label. Death-grind comes close. Buzzwords like “organic” and “throwback” get bandied about as well. But as it happens with a group that sounds tip-of-the-tongue familiar yet still strange, such a pursuit is folly. March of the Parasite could fall under an old-school, death-grind, hyphenation-ad-absurdum umbrella without anyone saying “boo,” but things are complicated by the fact it has a such a distinct personality. The more words are pinned to it, the more obscured it becomes.
The album hisses to life with a Werner Herzog quotation, an incantation of Teutonic gloom. Laethora quickly establish their game plan with the first couple of tracks, blazing through blast beats and head banging riffs in equal measure. They tear shit up so expertly, it’s easy to take these songs for granted. Not pretentious or showy in their compositions, they concern themselves more with pile driving than with ingenuity: “Clothing for the Dead” stampedes to a close astride a two-note breakdown and some kind of hideous warbling noise.
Throughout the album, the riffing remains catchy, on par with At The Gates. If the mood weren’t so grim, it would almost sound like fun. But March takes a turn for the monotonous on “The Scum of Us All,” a grinder, a lugubrious schlep. Luckily, it’s quickly redeemed by the similarly glacially paced, but far more compelling, “Facing Earth” which conjures the Earth Rise image with all its attendant dawning horror of cosmic futility. “Black Void Remembrance” stands out with a looser groove and a nearly pop structure.
Metal’s transition to the post-modern era has been a boon creatively and commercially, but it’s also led to a surfeit of craptacular bands that believe a “song” should be a checklist of genre exercises. Swedish riff here, grind splatter there, tack on a Hatebreed breakdown and scrub out. Add clean vocals if you’re adventurous or in it for the chicks. I pity the drummers saddled with such nonsensical songwriting. This unstable, inchoate sonic mélange, even if passionately executed, tends to lack emotional heft.
March of the Parasite by contrast, sounds focused and indissoluble. It plunges forward, head down, eyes front. Like the worst sort of monster, it’s threatening because it has abandoned all alternatives but viciousness. A myopic, insect-like dedication to simply accomplishing the job, which in this case is being fucking evil. The bleakest parts are like an alien hive bent on mindlessly propagating its own pestilential race (which is so totally metal).
With gorgeous artwork reminiscent of Mike Mignola’s (of Hell Boy fame) blocky art nouveau,March of the Parasite is a formidable release that will likely be remembered on year-end lists. Not recommended for dilettantes, this album will reward anyone willing to wade a little deeper into the dark waters of death metal. But the usual metal caveat applies: houseplants may respond adversely.
Reviewed by: Charles Robbins
Reviewed on: 2007-08-08