Genre: Death Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
The first full length of this band came out in 1998, but what’s really important in the underground was their 1993 EP “Necromantic Love Songs”, which was also re-released in 2011 as a compilation through The Crypt. As they were named Dethroned Emperor before taking up this name, and they were active since 1989, Antropomorphia is actually one of the oldest Dutch death metal bands. Taking a decade long break from 1999 to 2009, the recent years have had them fairly active, as “Merciless Savagery” is now their fourth full length since 2012.
Not only that, they have also managed to climb the label ladder up to one of the most popular ones in the genre, namely Metal Blade, for their previous record in 2017 “Sermon ov Wrath” as well as this one, giving another possible push to success for the band. For starters, I prefer that kind of title a lot compared to what they used to do, having “v” instead of “f”, as well as “v” instead of “u” in their records. While it still is a trend in the tracks of “Merciless Savagery”, I always have a secret hope bands will just reduce this kind of modification on words in general. It is something Antropomorhpia have adopted only in their recent records, and not in their sparse early material, which contributes to the whole black / death metal moniker they promote.
The band is strongly tilted towards depicting the female body in their art, as you can find clothing-averse women in almost all of their artworks so far, yet I found the black & white, artistic photograph of “Merciless Savagery” a big improvement to the drawings of the previous albums. This goes hand in hand with the better title and makes this a death metal album that has my hopes high before getting into listening to it. For anyone who has listened to the band before, the new record is another addition to the same compositional / ideological mentality, presenting heavy hitting death metal lines at all speeds and blasphemic lyrics, with a loud and clear enough for everyone production.
The vocals are limited to the typical growls you would expect in a death metal album, but the material itself doesn’t really demand any kind of variation when it comes to the voice duties, so the effort is more than decent in this area. In “Merciless Savagery”, one can find familiar patterns of death metal, with familiar guitar lines and solid drumming, which seems like the band plays well but maybe, too much into their comfort zone. The faster tracks are the most enjoyable, for example “Luciferian Tempest”, the self-titled one, or “Apocalyptic Scourge”, yet the album doesn’t always maintain the above average spot.
There are only a few solos in “Merciless Savagery”, but they don’t live up to the composition’s demands (e.g in “Womb ov Thorns” or in “Unsettling Voices”, a very dull track), showing a section where I think the band could potentially improve. Other than the semi-groovy death metal track “Cathedral ov Tombs”, the rest of this album is made of average tracks and some good moments, in a mix that as a whole represents a legit album. I do not believe “Merciless Savagery” can achieve death metal brilliance but it won’t be a disappointing listen for the fans of the band, and it shows some slight steps of growth, mostly in the aesthetics. As far as the music goes, it is enjoyable because you have heard it before.