With all the fanfare of a tree falling in the forest, this record hit the shelves a couple months ago. What the hell kind of world do we live in when a killer slab of Florida death metal, one with honest-to-christ songs and a sense of tempo almost unknown today, gets released, and no one notices? It's enough to make you just give up sometimes and go sit in the basement listening to "The Ten Commandments" all week.
Drummer and apparent band mastermind Gus Rios has co-written with MALEVOLENT CREATION's Phil Fasciana, and has been active in the Florida scene for a good while. His age shows in the old-school influence prevalent on "To Escape Is To Suffer" — not enough death metal bands use the one-two, one-two thrash beat any more. But UPON INFLICTION draw inspiration from an era when equal influence could be drawn from MORBID ANGEL and SLAYER, when thrash wasn't a dirty word to a death metal freak, and when memorable songs meant more than the endless race to be faster or more ludicrously guttural.
While their thrashy, catchy, urgent take on death metal has a strong and proud history in Florida's scene (see: RESURRECTION, BRUTALITY, MONSTROSITY), UPON INFLICTION would be more at home in the collection of a VADER, HATE ETERNAL or KRISIUN fan these days. Don't get the idea that they rely on speed as much as those bands, however — "Abducted" is a churning, double-kick-heavy midtempo crusher (at least until it builds into thrashed-out insanity after the solo). And even the short, blistering "Surgical Murder", with its blast beats and divebombing whammy bar solos, leaves in a few seconds' respite from the speed assault.
There's some serious guitarwork going on here as well, courtesy of Seth Ringler — check out the Schuldiner-inspired melodic parts in the otherwise crushing "Rage", or the speed soloing in "American Way". While none of the riffing is overtly technical, it's still a lot of quick picking and stop-on-a-dime changes, a nonstop assault that gives the album its heart-attack intensity.
The worst thing you could say about UPON INFLICTION is that the band doesn't have an original bone in its body. But dammit, no one is doing death metal quite like this these days, and there are damn few of any stripe who are putting out this much energy or attacking with this much hungry fervor. "To Escape Is To Suffer" is the kind of record that should be getting you excited about American death metal again. Will someone please go buy the damn thing? If nothing else, do it for the band's excellent cover of DEATH classic "Mutilation", which closes the album.