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Shadow Music Ryan Harding Review by
Ryan Harding
Hammerheart Records

In the States this will be released through Conquest Music. You'd think an American label would have been able to get this released before Europe, but "at the band's request," the second full length from DIABOLIC was delayed another season. They may have their THIRD album out by the time you can go into a store in the USA and buy it. It's been recorded since June 7th of 2000.

Their first full length, SUPREME EVIL, established the Floridian act as another heavy and brutal force from the death metal capital of the United States. SUBTERRANEAL MAGNITUDE is all things Floridian as well. It's certainly never been a problem for death metallers from Florida to make up a word when the English language proved too inhibiting. Glen Benton was asking to be "blasphemated" long before DIABOLIC invented "subterraneal." Perhaps more attuned to New York death sensibilities are the song titles - no less than 5 featuring an -ion word. But living up to some clichés hardly means we can ignore the extremity of their performance. That's what they count on to set them apart, right?


Well, the parts are somewhat greater than the whole this time. While their bent toward varying their tempos may set them apart from ANGEL CORPSE, HATE ETERNAL, and other purveyors of hell-paced American death, at times it makes the songs feel a little forced. The ultra-fast moments somehow always seem to culminate in a mid-paced section with less conviction, often with indistinguishable solos (rather Floridian a la Trey Azagthoth). But hey, that's far better than the New York tendency to throw in an embarrassing crunch riff just to keep the pit crowd interested. A minor complaint, but an unfortunate carry-over from SUPREME EVIL is the rather unintimidating group photo (two this time), and indifferent cover art by Joe Petagno (but at least it wasn't like SUPREME EVIL, virtually a carbon copy of his work for Angel Corpse's EXTREMINATE).

Now the positive. In a word, Aantar. The thought of his talents in a non-stop speed affair is very intriguing. Due to an interesting production (imagine Immolation's FAILURES FOR GODS, only successful), the blasts are especially intense, and notable double bass work emerges in "Failed Extraction." Aantar is in fact called "Blastmaster" in the album sleeve, though unfortunately some songs do not allow him to justify that namesake. Brian Malone and Bryan Hipp (ex-BRUTALITY) contribute several good riffs (if not particularly interesting solos), as on "Failed," "Deadly Deception," and "Diabolical Perception," with inspiration from - of course - MORBID ANGEL, particularly in slow dives throughout and the title track. Paul Ouellette's vocals however, possibly the most unique thing about DIABOLIC (more in common with Johnny Hedlund of UNLEASHED than any American predecessors), aren't as pronounced this time (the only disappointment of the production).

As implied before, the momentum of the album flares at some moments and wanes at others. It has staying power, but perhaps not as much as I think they are capable. Still a band to follow, their best days probably have not begun yet. Minor complaints aside, SUBTERRANEAL is still far evolved over the likes of Skinless and their ilk. Certainly better than 3 skulls, and at times likely to satisfy at a 4 skull level.

Perplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex Skull? Perplex Skull

This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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