Review: Virulence of Misconduct – Infected
The intersection of deathcore and slam does not have red lights. Nor crosswalks, pedestrian signals, lane divisions; all of these impose an orderliness anathematic to the occupants. It’s a demolition derby in there, and even the dimmest participants understand the physics of winning such an event; have mass, drive fast. In the arena of nihilistic violence, strategy is a loser’s pursuit.
German duo Virulence of Misconduct know these streets. Omni-instrumentalist/songwriter Roy Feyen and singer/lyricist Yannick Bauer never run out of riffs and roars, though true to the vehicle of choice for cruising the mean streets of slam city, the material they’ve loaded up is, well, post-consumer. Still, anyone who’s spent much time in dumpsters knows that people throw away an alarming amount of good stuff. Infected reeks of all the half-Ingested leftovers a brutal slam record usually carts around, belches out breakdowns to the point of Suffocation, and spikes that load of pure filth with rusty-razor pinch harmonics. But there is some detritus worth diving for, deep in the heap.
Virulence of Misconduct makes a case for Infected in the sudden spurts when Roy Feyen’s compositions stumble off the beatdown path. It’s not until the third song, “Afterlife,” that the record diversifies. The first of Infected’s idiosyncrasies is a subtraction of sound; Feyen and guest vocalist Adam Alexander (Dayum) take the back-beats off in the last repetition of a simple slam riff, introducing a bouncy rhythm straight out of a SeeYouSpaceCowboy song. Feyen adds a few more unconventional spaces as transition points on “Virulence,” and taps out a Rings of Saturn-style lead early in the track for good measure. He takes another risk in ending “Misconduct” with a simple arpeggiated melody—classic Ingested—but played on the bass, beneath the brutal death riffing.
These brief glimpses of personality inject some interest into Infected, but it’s too small a dose. After every swerve, the record returns to middle-of-the road brutal deathcore and the band never revisit an idea originating above the brain stem. For his part, Yannick Bauer does well enough, but with guest vocalists taking over the second and third songs, he’s pushed aside just as soon as he enters and brought back at an awkward time. Even on the B-side, Bauer doesn’t provide any remarkable feats to match Feyen’s occasional experiments.
The production and themes of Infected don’t offer listeners much either. Vocal levels are uneven between Bauer and the guests, and there are odd jumps in the volume of sound effects throughout the record, like a very soft snare cue in “Cure” and bass drops that sound level-matched to a different record entirely. And while the band are timely in releasing a fully covid-themed slam/deathcore record, those living outside the jurisdiction of healthcare-providing socially democratic governments (for instance, in the world capitol of being killed and financially ruined by the pandemic) can be forgiven for feeling like it’s too soon. Even if you disregard the timing, tying a concept or story line into a record where the singer’s main job is to mimic panicked wildlife rarely works out. It’s like springing for custom upholstery in the garbage truck you got to crash into other vehicles. It’s going to get wrecked and caked in filth and nobody will know it’s there unless you tell them. Even then, its existence is mostly taken on faith.
There’s a reason so many slam, gore grind, and brutal deathcore covers feature a scene on a city street. It’s not because the artists that draw them rely on tall buildings as a crutch to emphasize the scale of the monstrous creature looming overhead. No, that would be very rude to imply. The reason is that Effigy of the Forgotten featured a similar scene; a foreground of refuse and body horror cast against a background of glistening skyscrapers. The bands in this space strive to represent the former through technologies that arrive with the latter. As those technologies expand their reach, so does the music, increasing in volume it seems by day. Finding the very best records in a genre expanding worldwide is a tough task and making them is far more difficult still. There’s no shame in missing the mark, and reason enough to believe that Virulence of Misconduct can get closer than they have here. Provided, of course, that they can make it to the next album. It’s dangerous out there on the streets, I’m told.