Can you dig it? God is dead. God's Spreading Cancer (Ibex Moon, 2010 / Dying Music, 2007) opens with vocalist Sergio "Baloff" Borges conjuring the death cult, Warriors style, to pay obeisance. Fires are lit. Fists are raised. Borges is a demagogue with the voice of a teenage thug. The Headhunter Death Cult is an angry mob. Some would call this cheesy or prole. I say: hell yes. Give me ugliness, polka beats, booze, howling guitars, and rotting meat.

God Is Dead

The massive hardcore influence makes this album stand out. A lot of the more polished contemporary death metal — Behemoth or Nile, for example — avoid gallop and thrash in favor of purer Incantation or Immolation-inspired death metal. Headhunter D.C., however, find a middle ground between sophisticated composition and punk energy. The effect is striking, and mostly works like gangbusters. At their best, the results intoxicate — they make you want to throw beer bottles, stab people with screwdrivers, break car windshields.

Admittedly, a lot of the moves are familiar. Headhunter D.C. are particularly fond of riffs that bend and twist like Morbid Angel's. Nonetheless, even when Headhunter borrow from other bands, the songs are adventurous and interesting. The music writhes, taking one path, then abruptly switching to a different one, only to gradually lead back home again.The band never falls back on rote tricks, instead deploying techniques that are best for the song. For example, the guitar solos all have a baseline of chaos, but vary between the Hell Awaits skronk that collapses "God Is Dead" and the more melodic solo that elevates "Contemplation (To the Fire)."

This is the American release of their album from 2007. Headhunter D.C. have been around since 1991, opening for bands like Possessed, Sadistic Intent, and Ratos de Porão. They have three studio albums prior to this, none of which are as polished (a good or bad thing, according to taste). Their deal with Ibex Moon should see them reaching new listeners, welcome news for band and fans alike.

— Anthony Abboreno