Blemish - Swarm & Decay (Frozen Screams)

This is exactly the kind of youthful project that's good to get ahead of, because you can study in real time how a band's potential does (or doesn't) blossom. In the king-of-the-hill melee of 'old school' death metal (OSDM), Blemish rushed out of the gate this new year with a vigor akin to Sanguisugabogg's, when the Pornographic Seizures EP first turned heads in 2019. Both bands' simple-but-catchy riffs hit harder, thanks to certain evolutionary edges over the other ragged and stinky cavepeople in the OSDM morass. With Boggles, the inborne mutation was frontman Devin Swank, whose willingness to do anything short of butt-chug the mic didn't help to develop their kindergarten compositions—even while raking in big-time label support. With Blemish, thankfully, it’s a more collective attention to detail and eclecticism that help Swarm & Decay stand out, whether in the chiming cymbals that shoot through "Nailgun Acupuncture," or in the clever layering of punky rasps atop bestial burps and gurgles. Though, admittedly, it'd be hard to argue any songs on this hyper-limited (and unfortunately sold out) lathe release surpass Sanguisugabogg's grade level, I'm heartened by the fact that the new cut is better than the re-recorded ones from their 2021 demo—and almost more promisingly, that Blemish delve into their hardcore/post-hardcore influences with a spirited cover of emoviolence pioneers Jeromes Dream. Let's just hope they continue to collaborate with the discerning brutalists over at Frozen Screams, and don’t ditch that label the way that Boggles did Maggot Stomp. There, I think, Blemish will get all the right tools to develop and execute their skinny-jean take on nasty, slammy DM.