|Release Date:||15th of July, 2022|
|Released via||Redefining Darkness Records|
|Cover Artwork||Jason Barnett|
After several EPs and split releases, the Maul’s debut album was finally released on July 15th. Seraphic Punishment is the name of this monster and believe me, this description is more than understated.
After only a few seconds into the record, you immediately know what you are getting yourself into. Grinding, like someone is kicking your skull over and over again for the next 35 minutes. In the finest Bolt Thrower and Obituary fashion, it feels like you’re being slowly run over, by a tank.
Singer Garrett Alvarado definitely is not human. Very rarely have I heard such a sick voice: from deep growls to mean squeals, everything goes.
Mid-tempo vibes ala Autopsy can be heard on the opening track “Of Human Frailty“. Again and again you are pushed into a coffin by the stomping guitar riffs. The short synth interludes corroborate this mood.
Austin Powers himself would more than like the title song “Groovy Baby“. The drums in particularsound like a disgusting death groove on this one. Fans of Autopsy and Carcass will get their money’s worth here.
Other newer Death Metal bands tend to release monotonous sounding albums (no offense, I like most of that stuff). Maul, however, always manage to spread refreshing elements on Seraphic Punishment like the melodic riffs on tracks such as “Monarchy of Mold“, which resonate very European. Maybe that is the reason why the guitars remind me of At The Gates. In addition, there are the countless dive bombs, which interact perfectly with various mosh parts. Unfortunately, the debut of these guys from North Dakota does not only consist of hits. One or two songs less would not have harmed the album but that it just me, being picky.
I am more than impressed by the fact how the band manages to build up atmosphere and then completely destroy this feeling with neck-breaking mosh parts. Please use this strategy of songwriting more frequently on the follow-up record!
With their debut, Maul already seem very solidified in terms of their personal sound. They don’t imitate old Death Metal legends, as it is currently the case with many bands. Instead, Seraphic Punishment sounds very mature and individual. The guys from Fargo, North Dakota, do not reinvent the wheel with their album. Nevertheless, it sounds refreshing, because it is not like another Dismember or Bolt Thrower clone. They consciously refrain from following different trends. Probably this is also the reason why it’s not that easy to describe the sound. Of course, it’s Death Metal. Here and there you can hear some influences, like Autopsy or Obituary, these two bands describe the tempo of the record quite well.
Seraphic Punishment is one thing above all, a strong debut album. Maul succeed in creating a sound that literally crushes you. It is oppressive and, in some places, very claustrophobic. Perhaps a good soundtrack, which already describes the end of human downfall, at least how this event will sound like.
If mid-tempo Death Metal is exactly your thing, you’ll get your money’s worth here.