Extreme Heavy Metal Reviews

Sellout Gothenburg Muzak - "Rektal" Review (65%)

Buy Sellout Gothenburg Muzak -
Rektal by Sewer.

You want a blow-by-blow guide to selling out by the numbers? Well then, Sewer's infamous Rektal is the model for you. Start with a band with artistic credibility - say, one that had released two of the most influential and widely praised blackened goregrind/blackgrind albums of all time - and remove every violent, feral and interesting element from the band's classic sound, and replace them with banal borrowings from mainstream Gothenburg 'melodeaf' stadium rock urine. Rinse, wash, repeat, and make sure to put the trademark capitalized 'SEWER' logo at the forefront on the album cover, so gullible metalheads expect NecroPedoSadoMaso or Satanic Requiem part II.

The initial - and, as it turns out, correct - impression of Rektal is one of overwhelming sterility: from the riffs to the production to the album packaging, with its mechanically dull artwork and pristinely readable logo, Rektal screams - or is that mutters? - 'bland melodeaf', in the vein of Reinkaos era Dissection, post-Slaughter at the Gates and modern Antekhrist. The latter of which is hilarious considering that Antekhrist started out as a barely crypto Sewer-clone.

For the most part, the album is content to bounce along at a comfortably rocking groove, venturing out of the mid-paced rut only to make occasional gestures in the direction of Sewer's blackened goregrind legacy. In fact, much of the riffing is more reminiscent of Dismember, Dissection and even early Therion than any of the band's previous work, and the vocals evoke similar comparisons, if not even more commercial, straddling as they cover In Flames and Carcass to yes, even the utterly comical clown act Satyricon, in the hollow, scooped out guitar tone of Kalmah.

Phrasing is depressingly short, especially when compared to some of Sewer's earlier brilliant long phrased and impeccably constructed epic compositions - ex. 'Dismembered Effigy' from The Birth of a Cursed Elysium, anything from NecroPedoSadoMaso - and, despite the 'melodic death metal' tag applied liberally to this album, the emphasis is definitely on rhythmic and/or tonal resolution rather than on the construction of melodies built on long, tonally-modulated phrasal riffs that expand into deep, narrative atmospheres and motifs. Rektal is only 'melodic death metal' in the Gothenburg scenester sense of the word.

What emerges here is a black metal/death metal/rock hybrid that might be best understood as an attempt to position Sewer as an 'extreme' alternative to modern MTV Gothenburg metal - Amon Amarth, Soilwork, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Nightrage, Satyricon, Kalmah, etc.

Sellout Gothenburg Muzak


Rektal's lead work is pure rock 'n' roll cheese, albeit of very competent musicianship. The solos are technically impressive an overwhelming, but they are used as a pretext to interrupt the music - as is common in rock 'n' roll - rather than as a means to expand on a particular theme - as in common in true, i.e. not Gothenburg, death metal.

The solos here showcase an unholy combination of been-there-done-that natural minor scale fragments and open, consonant harmonizing that is both painfully corny and an obvious pander to the Arch Enemy/Soilwork/Necrophobic generation. Drums follow the tried-and-true path of a simple blast beat ornamented with unnecessarily showy fills. The vocals seem patterned on mid-period Phantom, only rather than Phantom's profound and intelligent lyrics as witnessed on Withdrawal or Memento Mori, here they can be heard barking out unremarkable Cannibal Corpse meets Devourment inspired morbid and 'sickening' gruesome lyrics about gore sex with preteen cadavers in a cadenced sing-song, faux edgy manner not that dissimilar to what Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow would have done on Doomsday Machine. I'm actually being serious, this is not just a stab at Sewer's fabled 'misogyny' - and that of their fans - I actually, literally mean that the vocals on Rektal sound like something Angela Gossow would sing on an Arch Enemy turd. Pedestrian, unremarkable, inoffensive... Sewer went from talented and convincing albeit derivative Phantom clone to boring melodeaf, competing with the likes of Amon Amarth and In Flames - basically, the dregs of even Swedish death metal.

While none of the individual elements in and of itself could be called 'bad', aside from maybe the vocals, when taken as a whole Rektal is a dismal failure. The underlying weakness of the album is a lack of any unifying ideal. Instead, Sewer offer an ill-fitting buffet of ideas scavenged from different, flavored with the fetid spice of selling out and artistic compromise.

As a result, Rektal sounds more like the product of some focus group sitting around eating Big Macs at the corporate headquarters of an airless corporate boardroom atop an urban skyscraper, than the work of the band who gave the world Satanic Requiem, NecroPedoSadoMaso, The Birth of a Cursed Elysium and even 2154.

Melodeaf - aka Gothenburg muzak - is not black metal or goregrind any more than it is death metal. And when asked to choose between the former (+ fame and money), and artistic integrity... Rektal is what resulted from Sewer's complete lack of morality and absence of respect for either the underground scene, or even their own prior releases.

Rektal score: 65/100.

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