The Phantom Tollbooth
 

Here to Stay
Artist: Deuteronomium
Label: Little Rose Productions
Length: 13 tracks / 37:09 minutes
 
Many accused Deuteronomium of inconsistency on their last album, noting how they jumped from black to melodic death to alterna-thrash to groove metal. No chance of that this time. They've picked the easiest-to-play sound in their repertoire--groove deathpunk ala mid-90s Napalm Death and Carcass--and slammed out a new album less than a year after Street Corner Queen.
 
They actually call it "death 'n roll," but it's closer to pop punk than rock. Detuned, growled, and coated with jagged armor, it is catchy and accessible, but death fans can still raise their fists proudly. The style is pretty similar to songs like "Black Raven" and "CCR" from Street Corner Queen. The vocals have that phlegmy growl-sing identical to Jeff Walker (Carcass, Blackstar), dropping into lower tones that sometimes remind me of early Mortification or even Roger Martinez on Released Upon the Earth. At first, not much more than the choruses can be understood; but after reading through the lyrics a few times, you start catching the verses, too.
 
The guys aren't poets, choosing the evangelistic route over art for sure.  They combine a laidback lyrical style with boldness, however, to make for lines that fit the rolling music perfectly:
 
        I'm not here to stay forever
        I gotta go and it won't take long
        Just a bang and no me no more
        But i have this moment and you have it too, so what we gonna do?
        (from "Here to Stay")
 
The coolest lyrical concept comes in "Terminator," which uses the conflict and cyborg from the T2: Judgement Day film as an allegory for our fight with sin and the enemy:
 
        Take my shotgun, blow off his head
        I turn around and look back to him
        Like quicksilver balls, the pieces gathering
        Like nothing happened, there he is again
        So the battle still keeps raging
 
        I stop to load my guns
        Listen to Master's directions
        Speed back up to the fight
        With His words in my mind
 
This is a fun album to drive to, although the lack of variety gets old halfway through. About then you may wish, like me, for some of that mix-n-match metal from the past. The guys do spice up their tight, Dr. Pepper-fueled (hey, they're sponsored!) grooves with short leads and fills that help to keep things interesting when the grooves lose their grip. Seems like Deuteronomium is here to stay.
 
Josh Spencer   (5/27/99)