rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead
02. Static Reckoning
03. Trepanation
04. Xeroxed Reflection
05. DogdayGod
06. Love Thy Enmity
07. Culled and Forgotten
08. Synthetic-51n
09. No Ceremony
10. The Vanity Procession
11. Negative Fix
12. Greatest Love Offering in the History of the World

It is plain from the very start that no one is going to leave "Degeneration" with a heart full of hope. WRISTMEETRAZOR have a name that tells you all you need to know about their outlook, and that's before their third album's gristly talons sink into your gloopy, willing flesh. Ostensibly, this is metalcore, with some kind of nu-metal twist: in reality, this is a deeply disturbing and sonically hostile piece of work, wherein the ghost of screamo is drunk on steroids and planning a stabbing spree.

Having undergone a significant lineup change in the three years since their last album, "Replica Of A Strange Love", WRISTMEETRAZOR were perhaps destined to explore new ideas and fresh territory on "Degeneration". What they may not have even anticipated themselves, is how utterly disgusting and vicious their new material would sound. A proud and confrontational antidote to all those identikit metalcore production jobs, every ruinous riff arrives coated in a thin but discernible layer of hateful, toxic noise. Producer Randy Lebeouf has done an extraordinary job of rendering WRISTMEETRAZOR's morbid essence in maximized, three-dimensional splendor. "Degeneration" is nasty, unpredictable, and rotten to the core. In fact, it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the grubbiness of the whole thing, and to miss how inventive and eccentric its creators are.

It begins with three all-out assaults. "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead" is a fearsome statement of intent, with its beefed-up metalcore tropes and slack-jawed '00s breakdowns; "Static Reckoning" blends haunting clean vocals and melo-death melancholy into a wayward deluge of riffs; and "Trepanation" lurches and flails with a hint of polyrhythmic perversity, and brittle electronics that bring a bleak, industrial sheen to WRISTMEETRAZOR's methodical savaging. Thereafter, rulebook becomes pariah, and "Degeneration" becomes ever trickier to pin down. There are moments that lean heavily into the band's screamo/metalcore roots, but when a soaring vocal hook emerges from "Xeroxed Reflection", it is steadily devoured by an avowedly uncommercial, atonal funeral march. Next, fans of '90s alt-rock will find plenty to enjoy in "DogdayGod": a bilious, industrial metal beat-'em-up, which melts into "Love Thy Enmity"'s unhinged, blackened metalcore blowout and the 50-second slam assault of "Culled and Forgotten". Things take a darker turn on "Synthetic-51n", which rattles and rampages like "Iowa"-era SLIPKNOT, and "No Ceremony", which sounds like someone dipped DEVILDRIVER in a vat of psilocybin juice. There are undoubtedly moments where WRISTMEETRAZOR revert to the riff-driven norm, but even something as comparatively traditional as "The Vanity Procession" is delivered with tangible, disruptive malice.

Concluding with the electro-death dance-off of "Negative Fix" (think MACHINE HEAD in rubber trousers) and unapologetic, big goth metal finish "Greatest Love Offering in the History of the World", "Degeneration" is grim, emotionally grueling and absolutely not designed to cheer anyone up. Exemplary behavior.

Author: Dom Lawson
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