If one were ever on the hunt for a brutal death metal album that features snippets from Family Guy, has a distinctively vile title with equally vile but comedic song titles, and exorbitant pig squeals, look no further than Prepuce from the Sonoran Desert madmen, Atoll. There must be something in the water…er…sand there since that area has been churning out some incredible metal for some time now and as the PR speak says of this EP, “pure American brutality,” Atoll fit the bill. But also take time to make you laugh, hysterically.
Atoll’s debut, The Gathering Swarm, was, if there is such a thing, a meat and potatoes brutal death metal affair. It had all the crazy breakdowns, swirling maelstroms of riffs, blasts for days, and pig squeals aplenty. Ditto for follow up Fallout Frenzy. However, it was nothing that X, Y, or Z brutal death metal band hadn’t done and it definitely didn’t break any boundaries. They both were good entries, to be clear…just more of the same that after a listen or two fell flat and out of memory. Third effort, Zoopocalypse, is where things took a turn and where it seemed the band knew they needed a small something to make it stick. Comedy, man. That’s the trick. So, with the hilarity of “Work Whores” and slapstick nature of “Krokodil Mile” the album hit differently and has persevered a three year gap.
Which brings us to Prepuce, and I assume you’ve already punched that in the old search engine. BAM. Gotcha, didn’t it. “Cirrhosis for Dinner” opens with hilarious dialogue which most readers of this review should immediately recognize, then gets straight down to brutal business. It’s a meat grinder of gnarly guitars, chugging beats, and cookie monster vocals meets peppa the pig getting an axe across the back. Later, “Molotov Cock Tease” shows some serious growth in the band’s memorability category throwing nearly their entire arsenal out like machine gun fire yet sounding more cohesive than ever. Melodic pacing, fiery guitar solos, bass work that lays down napalm, and, finally, some varied vocals. And, inhuman playing is thrown in here and there for good measure. Hell, it took me double digit listens to be sure I hadn’t missed anything. As wild as that sounds, this is the Atoll I knew was in there all along and they set the woods on fire here. Next track “Hitchhiker” has the same impact, just from a more straightforward death metal approach and much better attention to writing a song that sticks in the cortex like an ice pick. Otherwise and elsewhere, this is a good effort that may or may not turn heads though. It is brutal, it is best enjoyed loud, and it hits the right hallmarks of the genre, but there’s still a ton out there that hits these same marks, just minus the funnies. So, mileage may vary.
Atoll definitely has had some standout moments throughout their career, but they were few and far between. With Prepuce, they have the most in one place. Maybe the fact that this is an EP helps as it trimmed the spin time down considerably to alleviate listener fatigue and/or fallout over return experiences. However, I’ve had a blast with it over the course of double digit listens and am a fan of well placed and obscenely funny dialogue snippets which they do here to great success. The memorable moments outweigh the norm and for that, they’re a better band and better equipped for the next full length. My hope is that it continues this trend of shaking up their norm while keeping the comedic value intact.