Jersey’s Replicant tangle brains, pummel senses with devastating death on ace ‘Malignant Reality’

Not everyone wants to be challenged every time they put on a record, and that’s understandable. There’s something comforting about putting on a record and just letting it devastate you or roll right off you, whatever makes you happiest. But there’s still something awesome about a record that feels like it reaches into your skull and squeezes every drop of blood from your brain.

I tend to veer away from technical death metal because so much of it feels robotic and heartless, like they’re just there to show you how well they play their instruments. But not all bands of that ilk are like that, and New Jersey-bred smashers Replicant are among those who are astonishingly proficient as players but also pour a shitload of fire into their creations. “Malignant Reality” is their second record, and it’s a fucking barnburner. The band—vocalist/guitarist/bassist Mike Gonçalves, guitarist, high-frequency transmissions artist Pete Lloyd, drummer James Applegate—squeezes their madness and brilliant skills into 10 tracks and nearly 49 minutes that ravage your mind and spirit. This is vicious and technically sharpened death metal that feels like a living, breathing beast, gnawing its way into your arteries and bones.

“Caverns of Insipid Reflection” gets things going with guitars stabbing and utter destruction laid out before you. The growls mar as gritty death lurks, and the tech-minded mashing plays with your senses, warping and chugging before brief serenity sets in. It’s temporary as punches are thrown and beastly punishment tries to behead, leading you into “Relinquish the Self” that stirs with zany riffs. The growls punish as the playing twists your mind, and the guitars slice holes into your central nervous system. Your psyche is challenged, the playing tangles, and the finish kills wills. “Excess Womb” snakes in as guitars snarl and the vocals crush, pressing on your chest. The playing suddenly gets spacious before things halt, savagely thrashing out on the other side. “Death Curse” crushes and dizzies as it hits the ground as animalistic wails steam, and a strange aura swims into your mind. The brutality then launches death blows, the growls echo, and sludgy playing thickens the blood in your veins, ending with your body abused. “Coerced to Be” is slurry as the bass slinks, and then the track ignites, sending shrapnel. The track splatters hard, bringing ugly chaos and rubbery playing, bathing in raspy cries, and giving off steam as it works into the belly of the machine.

“Rabid Future” has spacey guitars and then it drops its ton of bricks, obliterating the senses. There is some heavy exploration that can make your mind wander, and then the bass sends chills, strange voices warn of psychosis, and the instrumental track fades out. “Chassis of Deceit” just goes off the rails, whipping its limbs about, sending you hurtling toward brutality. The riffs twist as your guts are wrenched, a strange abyss opens and invites you in, and then the song peels off flesh, burning your nerves before sending off into space. “Dressed in Violence” smashes with an insane pace and growling that increases the steam. The track buries you in grisly hell, the pain increases, and the guitars seem to head off into time. “Ektoskull” is bizarre out front as the growls hammer and the playing squeezes your flesh. A brief halt is a gateway into the track getting deadlier, sinewy guitars flex terrifying muscles, and robotic noises scrape metal, having you begging for mercy as closer “The Ubiquity of Time” dawns, floating in before the waters get choppy. Growls and harsh wails mix as a nightmarish pace sets the tone, and a brief fog entrances before the explosions ripple. Things get weird again as noise fusion wrinkles your brain, all the circuits fire, and a dizzying trance pushes the issue, ending in a heavy dose of trancey madness.

Replicant have no qualms about unleashing death metal that’s equally brutal and stunningly technical, but never in a way that feels robotic or programmed. “Malignant Reality” is an album that require your attention, as you can’t just let your mind drift off, because they will jerk you back with violent intent. Everything here is designed to make your body hurt and your mind ache, and they have no restraint when it comes to those psychologically violent goals.

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