As an amateur epicurean with a budget, a lot of enticing delicacies have been denied me on the basis of cost. Chief among them would be the purported glories of Kobe (aka Wagyu) beef, famed for its exquisite marbling and excellent taste. The bastards on Iron Chef keep tempting me, but so far the opportunity to partake has eluded me.
And while that delectable morsel is beyond my current pocketbook’s reach, it does make a perfect metaphor for Germans Wojczech’s unexpected new album, Pulsus Letalis, which is beautifully marbled with lean grind muscle and veins of unctuous death metal substance. It’s just a shame it’s a bit of step back from their earlier work.
As to be expected since it's the band’s first full length since 2005’s Sedimente, there’s some rust that still needs to be worked off. Where that album was a gymnastics routine tied to a foundation of grind (bassist Andy Colosser moonlights in criminally underrated grind visionaries Who’s My Saviour), Pulsus Letalis plays it safer with a more familiar blend of death and grind. Wojczech have hunkered down to deliver a dozen songs (including Repulsion’s “Maggots in Your Coffin”) of bullish death grind that pits aggression over artistry. While it may tend to a tad generic lacking the band’s prior expansiveness, it does its job.
“Battlestar” swirls along on a delightful circular riff while the astrally projected “Leitkultur” hints at Wojczech’s former experimentalism as it slithers along like a glass serpent. The strongest aspect of the album, overall, is Stephan Gottwald’s perfectly on point drumming, highlighted by the thunderous “Steinzeit” or snare rolling “Izotope.”
Wojczech - "Izotope"
Wojczech have always suffered from middling band syndrome, never finding that hook to vault them into wider consciousness, but by jettisoning the irregularities that made Sedimente stand out from the pack, they’ve made their job that much more difficult. On its own, Pulsus Letalis is a perfectly acceptable album, but compared to Sedimente, it just feels lacking.