Despite the very ‘death metal’ nature of the title of Melbournians Scaphis’ second album, Dissected & Fermented actually goes way above and beyond the usual tropes of that genre; that’s not to say much of the music here isn’t resolutely death metal in outlook – it is – but to commend the band on their willingness to inject new angles and fresh styles into the format. The result is one of the most listenable and, well, just straight-up interesting listening experiences of the year to date!

Quite frankly, The Hunt is the sort of song most metal bands would kill to put their name to, DM or not; instantly pulling in the listener via some fine work from guitarists Ben Eberhard and Josh Ristrom, the song lurches through several movements, the whole controlled by a fine performance from vocalist Spyke Jägerkrieg, whose tortured-being howl may at face value sound like ‘just’ another death metal performance, but actually reveals itself over the course of the song – and indeed the broader album – as a vital cog in the Scaphic wheel.

Plague is not far behind; proggier in feel but no-less hard hitting; again the guitars hit the mark hard, backed by some great kick work from Lance Vegas which pushes the song to it’s inevitable mid-point crescendo with stern-visaged efficiency. Again, the performances are big enough to really draw you in as a listener, encouraging you to get more physical in your relationship with the song. By which I mean, even in my living room, a fair amount of windmilling was going on whilst this song blasted from the stereo…

Although much of the material here is mid-paced and crunchy, arrangements are clever enough to stop things getting to samey; the ringing, dissonant mid section of All For You is a brilliant case in point, adding an almost post-punk iciness to the track before Vegas kicks in with some nice fast-paced snare work just in time for the solos; these guys clearly know their business, and know it very well!

Death metal bands a literally ten a penny these days, so it’s really refreshing to hear a band, as committed to their music as Scaphis clearly are, who aren’t scared to mix up the madness and deviate a little from the norm not just occasionally but as a matter of course. That commitment to excellence makes this a must-hear album if you love death metal!

Dissected & Fermented releases today (July 8th).