It’s now been nearly a decade since Opprobrium (formerly Incubus, but changing their name to avoid confusion with the rap-rock combo) penned a record for Nuclear Blast – or anyone else, for that matter. So, taking this into consideration, you’d think the stench of dubious modernity would’ve crept up on these guys, no? Wrong. Like some cranky, crusted-over artifact from death metal’s bygone fledgling days, Discerning Forces finds the Brazilian quartet actually years behind their 1988 debut, Serpent Temptation, belching forth a metallic sound that’s as “retro” (however you define it, if you truly can) as it gets. But if this seems to smack of a hokey, wink/nod/nudge joke record Osmose would be fond of releasing, it’s really not. Without a trace of irony or self-consciousness, Opprobrium kick out a cantankerous maw that dually channels Death’s Scream Bloody Gore debut and all the second-tier death-metal records it immediately inspired in its wake: delightfully thrash-canned production (courtesy of Harris Johns – actually closer to Scott Burns’ jobs of yore), a dizzying number of time changes, chunky n’ caulked-up riffs, and vocalist/guitarist Francis Howard’s bull-headed bark, which is not-too-curiously reminiscent of neighbor Max Cavalera in his earlier (circa ’87-’89) Sepultura days. A big yet pleasant surprise, Discerning Forces harnesses a primal power that’s all too ungraspable for Opprobrium’s (deliberately) stunted contemporaries.
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