Brazil is no stranger to the metal world, boasting legendary acts like Sepultura and Sarcofago, but they haven't been incredibly relevant since the '80s and early '90s, at least not to people like myself who don't enjoy mediocre death metal acts like Krisiun or overly sloppy thrash who all try to sound like Sarcofago. However, hidden beneath all of the waste of mediocrity are a couple of bands who would make their forefathers proud: the thrash band Violator and the death metal vandals, Escarnium, who are about to completely conquer the Brazilian underground with their fantastic rendition of dark and suffocating death metal on "Excruciating Existence." There have been plenty of bands today who worship at the Incantation altar, mimicking the heavy, low-end tremolos of John McEntee and doing their best Pillard impressions, but Escarnium manages to sound much fresher than your average retro-band.
Simply put, this record will smother you with its heaviness, but it will also collapse your skeletal system with its incredible grooviness. The intro to "Self Proclaimed Messiah" is an awesome one, with its fantastic bass line and eerie powerchords that buildup to an absolute curbstomper of a death metal tremolo riff. "Salvation Through Zyklon-B" and "Dark Clouds Above Hell's Fire" also have that perfect blend of Incantation-like murkiness and Bolt Thrower-esque grooving, making for songs that mesmerize the listener with a dark and gloomy feeling while also battering them repetitively with riffs upon riffs that every new death metal act wishes they could conjure up. Even simple tremolo sections that every death metal act seems to use, past and present, are great on "Excruciating Existence," just listen to the first riff that invades your mind on "Slaves of an Ending Fate," or the riffs on "Covered in Decadence." Escarnium really makes it difficult for other bands out there who rely solely on their ability to sound evil, because not only have these guys got that covered, they can also deliver with some excellent riffage.
The vocals here are typical Pillard worship, but there are brief moments when the listener is treated with a guttural shrill that sounds very akin to Glen Benton, which makes for a nice bit of variety in between the low growls that are prevalent throughout. The drumming isn't anything remarkable, but it is sufficient enough. The double bass sections and the occasional blast beats are all executed well enough and fit the music, so there aren't any complaints that can logically be made. The bass gets some nice fills and does its thing to bring even more heaviness to the band's sound, so someone should buy the dude a beer or two. "Excruciating Existence" is definitely a great find as far as death metal goes in 2012. There have been plenty of decent to great releases, but none of them really hit all of the high marks that Escarnium did on this record, already making it a favorite for death metal record of the year.
Be sure to check out and like Escarnium on Facebook!
"Salvation Through Zyklon-B"
"Self Proclaimed Messiah"
"Slaves of an Ending Fate"
4.5/5 or 90%.