Slam death metal is and always will be looked down upon as the braindead bastard-child of brutal death bands like Suffocation and, in most regards, I’m alright with that. Not because I find it to be a completely fair assessment of the genre (even though most get the fucking stupid part right), but rather because it makes the greatest slam bands feel like a well-kept secret. Most metalheads will avoid most of this stuff because of how over-the-top and simple it can be, meaning that some of the greatest bands in the genre are less talked about. This said, every genre has a few artists who can crossover into relative popularity. Examples of this include the Will Smith (Artificial Brain, not Fresh Prince) fronted Afterbirth and, today’s topic of discussion, Devourment. Let’s get something straight for you uninitiated into the slamosphere – Devourment isn’t just a defining band in the genre, they are the defining band in the genre. The 1.3.8. compilation is quite possibly the only considerable classic in this genre to most people.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any other standout records or genre-defining moments in slam’s history, it’s just that 1.3.8. is the kind of album that converts people into a crippling slam addiction. Don’t get it twisted, this gateway drug of a record isn’t the baby steps into a genre, there is quite a bit of precursory listening requirements to really be able to appreciate what’s being done here. This may sound odd, as the general preconception is that there isn’t much to be underappreciated in a record with songs titled things like “Babykiller” or “Festering Vomitous Mass,” but the genius (I use the term very loosely) of slam and, therefore, 1.3.8. lies not in intellectual pursuits, but its sheer power.
Every bit of this auditory concoction, from the deep, guttural gurgles to the earth-moving bass tones to the artery-clogging, chugging riffs, is deep and flavorful in the most tasteless way possible. What the untrained ear might confuse for a mush of guts and gore is, in actuality, an all-you-can-stomach buffet of sounds to murder your neighbors to. Devourment is unadulterated, unfiltered aggression, the kind of which you can only find in a genre this extreme and depraved. 1.3.8. fails to disappoint with any form of interlude or technicality – as Devourment’s genius also lies in their confidence in their style and their self-awareness. The band knows their strengths and where they should take a song. Tracks like “Self Disembowelment” and “Postmortal Coprophagia” opt to pummel, rather than progress – only taking short breaks for samples taken from interviews with violent serial killers.
These bastards from Texas saw what bands like Suffocation and Internal Bleeding were doing in New York and said: “how can we go harder, how can we get more brutal.” The mentality of slam death metal reminds me of grindcore’s, in the sense that grind was about who could make their riffs the fastest and that slam is about who can slam the hardest and sound the most oppressive. This attitude is what 1.3.8. is all about, taking the frills out of New York brutal death metal and making it way nastier. The end result sticks to you like thick sap, the kinds of which that’ll never wash off. On second thought, maybe that’s not sap, it might be blood.