Metal has long been fertile ground for artists to explore the brutal and violent side of their nations’ histories. Although the country has an endless landscape of stories to explore, India’s metal scene is still in its nascent stages compared to countries with more established legacies in heavy music. But Chennai’s Moral Putrefaction is one of many bands looking to push India’s metal presence forward with their invigorating brand of straightforward death metal.

According to the band’s press release for the new self-titled album: “India stands at the precipice of a shocking epoch, restoring its contested historical and religious legacy. In resistance, Moral Putrefaction‘s debut album challenges prevailing narratives, delving into the complexities of the nation’s diverse cultural landscape. From opposing caste discrimination and political corruption to exposing the horrors of colonialism and religious extremism, each track paints the struggles and resilience of a nation navigating its turbulent past and uncertain future.”

To that end, the album cover presents the listener with a menacing portrait of gore, sacrifice and otherworldly horrors — which, of course, are always a reflection of our own internalized horror at life in our own world. And thus, the band’s death metal assault is the ideal sonic delivery mechanism for this sense of historical terror.

The band cites Morbid Angel, Immolation, Bloodbath, and Gorguts as influences. I’d say Morbid Angel and Immolation are the most obvious standouts as the band’s stylistic precursors. Musically, the band’s compositions resemble Domination-era Morbid Angel and Immolation since Majesty and Decay. The Immolation comparison is easy as Shiva Moorthy’s vocals strongly resemble those of Ross Dolan. Come to think of it, several sections of the album remind me of David Vincent‘s more recent work with Vlitmas. However, there are some moments that remind me of Hate Eternal, Krisiun, and some of Vader‘s more recent material.

“Divided”, the album’s opening track, paints a grandiose picture with spiraling riffs and crushing vocals, but also captures a deep sense of despair with the guitar solo. It also shows the band’s capacity for hooks that keep the listener engaged with every chord change and snare hit. This is followed by the stellar “Serpent’s Gaze”, where the work of drummer Hemanth Vinod really stands out. The rhythm’s here go from consistent to unpredictable and off-putting, adding to the song’s entrancing aura of chaos.

Other highlights include the unrelenting attack of “Divine Retribution”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dying Fetus record. Check out the riffing section around the 2:30 mark to hear what I mean. I would also call out the bombastic and epic closing track, “Beneath Saffron Skies”, which showcases all of the band’s influences and moods — wrapping up the various themes of the album in a thunderstorm of palm-muted guitar salvos.

If you’re looking for a promising new band that plays a reliably crushing form of modern death metal, you should check out these guys. Their style goes right down the middle, heavy but not as brutal as slam, impressive but not overly technical, and familiar but still with own spin on a well-established sound. 

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