Non Compos Mentis
(Dynamic Arts Records) Enslain Magazine Issue 10 After some years of silence, Finnish deathgrinders Deathbound are back with their fourth full-length. Considering the excellent brutal death/grind effort they offered on their 2003 debut To Cure the Sane with Insanity, I haven't felt they've achieved quite the same level of intensity and insanity afterwards, even though the material has continued to be enjoyable. On Non Compos Mentis, however, this three-piece strikes harder than in years.
Deathbound's music seems to have gained back more of the death metal influence that ruled the debut, while also adding in some refreshing Entombed-like death'n'roll groove, and a couple of striking guitar leads carrying the same spirit - just listen to "Death Comes for a Visit" for a taste. The grinding core of the music is, of course, still there, shown most in drummer Sami Latva's (Rotten Sound) short compositions like "The Process of Destruction" and "When the Seas Are Boiling", but Deathbound know better than to blast recklessly all the way. The listener is met with heavily headbangable mid-tempo sections, and more up-tempo moments that bring my mind to the glory days of Swedish death metal, like during the verse segments of "The World is but a Memory", which is also wrapped up by a slow part full of creeping death metal darkness.
Delightfully, this time Kai Jaakkola is also doing more low growls to balance out the vocal dynamics, which were perhaps too dominated by his shouted screeches on the two previous albums. The vocals are filled with intensity and aggression to back up the nihilistic lyrics, which are not only arranged catchily, but also articulated clearly enough for the listener to get the idea even without the booklet. The world they reveal is that of a hateful and violent man, not of sound mind as the album title implies, going insane in a dying world where God doesn't give a shit - if he ever even existed. The songs are also spiced with some well-placed spoken samples, although they don't always seem to have much commonality with the lyrical theme of the song. For instance, the relevance of sampling serial killer Ed Kemper saying "I am a human being and I killed human beings" in a song about the world's end through God's indifference, doesn't quite compute.
Containing 14 tracks that clock in at just over half an hour, Non Compos Mentis is a compact package of groovy and intense modern death/grind that lives up to today's standards on every front while still being in touch with its roots. Although I'll continue to treasure Deathbound's debut as a personal classic, with doubts that they'll ever manage to surpass it, this time they've managed to come surprisingly close.