Clawhammer Abortion – Slaughter Campaign

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Label: Distrust Records

The artwork to Slaughter Campaign, the second record by American death metal troopers Clawhammer Abortion, is a great indication of what the record sounds like. The hulking, twisted form of the corrupted Chaos Space Marine is the personification of this sort of death metal – immensely brutal (though not necessarily brootal), crushing and powerful, the sort to take no prisoners, killing now and asking questions later. It’s maybe not quite as shocking now as it was in the 80’s (another comparison with the Chaos Marine that holds true), but it’s still hugely impressive. Bloody-minded and remorseless, Slaughter Campaign is 25 minutes of old-school death metal that will grind you under its tracks, reveling in the destruction it creates. This is sure to appeal to anyone who thinks Earache haven’t released a decent record in the last fifteen years.

Slaughter Campaign isn’t a complex album; the closest it comes to progressive is the clean-ish melody during the introductory segment of the opening title track. From there on, it’s practically nothing but vicious, pitiless old-school death metal. There’s a bit of grind influence to tracks like “You Must Burn”, which throws the listener head-first in to the maelstrom with no warning. Elsewhere, traces of 90s Swedish death metal can be picked up, whilst the likes of “Cannibalized” have the same sort of raw, muscular force as Cannibal Corpse do at their best. There’s even a few solos which are pretty mind-bending, as on “Ritualistic Insemination”.

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As all of this might suggest, there isn’t much going on in Slaughter Campaign that can be considered forward-thinking. It’s an album content to stay within its chosen style, reveling in the crude joys of old-school death metal, right down to the song titles – “Acidification”, “Ritualistic Insemination”, “You Must Burn”. It’s a tribute to bad taste and genre boundaries: those who are familiar with the style will know what to expect, whilst those uninitiated will instantly be put off exploring any further. But as far as records content to stick firmly within the boundaries of genre go, Slaughter Campaign is performed with such gusto and conviction that it’s hard to resist. Sure, it may not change your world, but it will give you a solid session of head-banging and raised fists, reminding you of the simple pleasures of this kind of death metal. And if there’s anything that the many revisions and new editions of Warhammer 40k have taught us over the years, it’s that sometimes change isn’t always for the better, and an ‘upgrade’ isn’t as good as what you already had.

I don’t want to create the wrong impression here – Slaughter Campaign might be firmly rooted in old-school death metal, but that doesn’t mean each of these eight songs sound the same. There’s a lot of variety here for an album that sticks so solidly to one style, even if it might take a spin or two for that to be readily apparent. Nor is it relying simply on brute force to succeed; there are dynamics and evidence of actual song-writing on display here. Ultimately, the power of this record is undeniable. I bet these songs absolutely slay live: they certainly do on record.

Slaughter Campaign can be streamed, downloaded, and purchased on CD and cassette via Bandcamp.

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