Recently I got into death metal tape collecting, and I started with Desert Wastelands Productions‘ triple-feature release of underground bands with some particularly horror-esque themes. The fun thing about companies like Desert Wastelands is that you get to try out artists that you’ve never heard of before – like Tenebro, an Italian project that has released a couple of demos in the past couple years including Liberaci Del Male, first on Dismal Fate Records and then again for Desert Wastelands’ VHS-inspired cassette tapes.
Tenebro’s MO is certainly recognizable: two dudes play guitar and bass, with drum programming to keep the beat going. Buzzsaw guitar chords provide chunky riff after chunky riff, and even the first track, “Cannibalismo Sanguinario,” has a tongue-in-cheek ode to their guitar sound by pairing it with background chainsaw revs.
On Liberaci Del Male, Tenebro really hit all of the areas that death metal tends to tread. There’s the mid-paced range of “Cannibalismo Sanguinario,” the apt funereal procession of “Arte Funeraria” which has its moments of fast-paced blastbeats, and an even slower dirge in “Il Lamento Dei Malati.” What Tenebro really miss, though, are some moments of high-energy intensity that bands like Of Feather and Bone have brought to the table. Their drum machine programming should make it easy for extend periods of blasts, but Liberaci Del Male only shows snippets of that ability. Instead, their three offerings are fairly repetitive in their riffs – and that’s okay, because they’re tasty riffs, but over a longer release that would certainly get stale.
There’s certainly a tendency to point to Mortician as influences simply because of the drum machine, but ultimately I don’t see a huge resemblance here besides programming and horror samples. Tenebro’s mixing is actually pretty clear which is at odds from Mortician’s somewhat noise-driven death metal. While Liberaci Del Male isn’t exactly unique, it’s also not entirely derivative of Mortician’s output.
The tape from Desert Wastelands is a dual-sided red cassette with the three tracks on both sides – no need to rewind, just turn it over! It comes with a J-card featuring a censored photo of the two bandmates, and Desert Wastelands’ design emphasizes the horror element of this release by giving the cover a VHS look. Overall a good release if you enjoy the beatdown death metal riffage that Tenebro employs.
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