If brutality is your craving look no further than Contagion. Chicago Deathcore heavyweights Oceano built a local notoriety for their raw energy, crushing breakdowns and terrifying guttural bawling. Their follow up from debut album Depths undoubtedly lives up to that infamy, but is that all they’ve got going for them? There’s a short answer to the question, but first, it’s only fair to take a closer look.
Yes, the death metal purists are going to hate it, but there’s no ignoring that there’s a fan base for such pessimistically brutal music. Precursor To Enslavement begins the onslaught with inaudible wailing and a string of rough chord sequences alongside a mix of intense speed drumming and fast double-kicks on break sections. The effort, like much of this second album, feels too forced. Even in Viral Re-animation featuring Alexandre Erian and Steve Marois formerly of Despised Icon, there’s no variation to create a standout.
If there had to be a standout track, Exist In Confinement is your sole chance to catch your breath with a rare mellow guitar introduction and unexpected spoken word providing the only vocals on top of a doomier structure. It’s probably the strongest track, but is of course the one and only song of solitude before you’re pulled back under, into the great depths of Oceano’s relentless aggression with Persuasive Oppression.
While it may seem like a refreshing idea in bringing Nick Arthur of fellow US deathcore outfit Molotov Solution to perform vocals on it, it doesn’t do anything to separate the album from the samey mediocrity that dominates it.
Truth is, ‘heavyness’ is too often viewed as a commodity to be exploited in a narrow ploy to gain attention from the extreme metal masses. Unfortunately with no real thought gone into it, Contagion is exactly this.