Texas has always been a hot-bed for all types of death metal, but the Lone Star State is most proud of the many brutal death metal acts that have spawned inside of its hellish borders. Acts such as Devourment, Sarcolytic, Viral Load, and Insidious Decrepancy helped put Texas on the map, and now many years later it is known as a place that thrives on some of the sickest and most brutal minds when it comes to creating punishing brutal death metal. Having recently released their third full-length, “Origin Of Apocalypse,” Diminished seeks to keep that tradition alive and well, wanting their pride of being a part of the illustrious Texas death metal scene to shine through. I have always held bands from Texas in very high-regard, because 95% of the brutal death metal I hear from there is really good, and with this being my first foray into Diminished, I am hoping that the overall percentage continues to increase.
For an album named “Origin Of Apocalypse,” Diminished seem to be rather politically aware, but in a contemptuous nature (like the rest of America). Typically I really do not like introductory tracks because they tend to just be random sounds that have no real connection to the album itself, other than to try and be something disgusting or haunting. But, ‘Abdicating The Throne’ is a surgical amalgamation of speeches taken from several political leaders such as John F. Kennedy, George Bush Sr., Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and President Barack Obama who speak of promises (they have failed to deliver on) and inspirational quotes, speaking to what the United States of America has become and what it should strive to be. After the powerful opening we are treated to the title track, ‘Origin Of Apocalypse.’ With a Disinter-esque opening with more guttural vocals, you are immediately bombarded with a crude-yet-truthful distaste for the corruption that runs rampant in our political system:
Standing on your podium
Speaking nothing but lies
While the backbone of the nation
Withers away and dies
Origin of Apocalypse
Political corruption for your personal gain
Running the nation like it was just a game
The people never had a defense long ago
You stole our voice”
–Michael Pinkard, ‘Origin Of Apocalypse’
Admittedly, this speaks very clearly to my leftist ideology, but what I found to be more important than my agreement with it is the fact that it’s a bit uncommon to find politically motivated lyrics in the realm of brutal death metal. We have become so accustomed to nothing but gore, cannibalism, and sexual assault to be the main lyrical subjects, so it felt refreshing to flip open the booklet and read these lyrics. Of course, that isn’t to say that there is none of the aforementioned lyrical themes to be found on “Origin Of Apocalypse,” since that clearly wouldn’t be true.
Surprisingly, Diminished does not solely rely on the element of Texas slam, which is used rather scarcely when you take an overall look at “Origin Of Apocalypse.” The album has an energetic pace and groovy style of brutal death metal with some nice technique behind it. Everything is put together well, and there are some interesting parts in the music, such as the miniature drum solo and sample of a well-known and deceased wrestling icon that transcends into well-placed slam on ‘Uninhibited.’ One of the things that I truly love about brutal death metal is that a lot of it tends to not subscribe to the notion of music having traditional song-structures. There are very few times where you will hear the same section twice, and you will always get something new, and Diminished do this well.
There are little bits of stylish fretboard play located throughout the album, with Daniel Andrew Balle sometimes giving me a feeling of what it may be like to hear Muhammed Suiçmez (Necrophagist) attempt brutal death metal. Diminished are more than capable of playing several different speeds, which helps to ensure in keeping the listener engaged throughout most of the music. Sometimes it can get a little repetitive with some of the same riff-styles being used, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to last too long since the band has quite an array of talent. I’m glad that Jose Vidal’s bass is there because it picks up the low-end that is desperately needed, otherwise Daniel’s guitar may have come off as a bit weak, even though the skills are there. Plus, his groovy bassline in ‘Divine Rite’ was pretty rad. Aaron Romo is creative with most of his fills, and not just trying to be another dime-a-dozen blastbeat drummer, particularly on ‘Uninhibited,’ ‘Tearing The Flesh Back,’ and ‘Divine Rite,’ which I found him to be most impressive on. Michael Pinkard and Daniel Andrew Balle seem to be switching off when it comes to the vocals, with both of them having a guttural style, as well as (I believe) Daniel pulling off the high-pitched screams, making sure that the vocals aren’t completely one-dimensional and giving the music an extra kick.
Production wise, everything sounds very crisp, but not too clean, giving it a little bit of a dirty charm. I don’t like for death metal to be completely error-free, as I think the sub-genre itself was built on embracing the incomplete and ugliness of it all. My only two minor issues with the album is that the bass drum is triggered more than I would like, and sometimes it feels like Michael’s vocals get buried in the mix at some points. Other than that, “Origin Of Apocalypse” is done very well, giving this foursome a strong tone.
Texas death metal is one of the most revered scenes in all of the world, and I must say that I think Diminished did a pretty damn good job of keeping that truth to be accurate. Making sure to use different forms of brutal death metal, “Origin Of Apocalypse” is a semi-technical ride that should keep a lot of people entertained, particularly those who love constantly changing song-structures. This relatively young band should be proud of the work they put into this album, as I’m sure they will be looked at in the future to try and increase their overall presence in the realm of brutal death metal. I will be anticipating a third album, and hope that it only takes another two years or less to come out.