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The great challenge for Philadelphia's Seputus will be for the project to differentiate itself from New York City’s chosen dissonant and depressive technical death metal sons Pyrrhon. The two bands share all of their members, including vocalist Doug Moore who, yes, edited this website for some time. Only guitarist Dylan DiLella does not pull double time in both outfits. Such interstitial duties are not uncommon, especially in homogeneous regional scenes. Hell, rumor has it most of Montreal’s black metal cabal is just the same few members trading songwriting duties. And on their debut album Man Does Not Give, Seputus do hit many of Pyrrhon’s same marks. Atonal riffs grind against pummeling drums that drop in and out of jazz time. Layered vocals evoke forces beyond human control given brief and malevolent life.

But that’s where the buck stops. And really, isn’t that true of all death metal in this style? Where Pyrrhon experiments with time, stretching songs out to Swans-ish expanses and then cramming others into Napalm Death-y jabs, Seputus keep things in a digestible song-length range, and instead plays more with timbre. My ears detect more than a little Norwegian black metal in the mix. “Top of the Food Chain” sounds, in snatches, like it could be the work of Nidingr’s (and now Mayhem’s) Teloch.

Honestly, if you’re going to compare Seputus to another band (and with music so obtuse that’s one of the only ways to describe it - which seems very much the point) the signpost is Cobalt, not because the projects sound similar - they do not - but because of the circumstances around their origin.

Both projects are the result of long-gestating collaborations between multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, one a civilian and one a veteran. In this case, that’s Moore and Steve Schwegler, who currently drums in Pyrrhon. Seputus actually predates Pyrrhon. Schwegler, the driving force behind the project, took the band out of cryo pursuant to his experiences as a naval aviator in a recon and intelligence squadron. But where Cobalt lionized military service and wallowed in its masculinity, at least to an extent, Seputus seems incapable of celebrating anything at all. Schwegler’s intel read: we are so fucked. At times, between songs, the album simulates the sounds of rapidly-switching radio channels. It is as if Moore and Schwegler’s composite character is, with us, in a distant cockpit, observing mayhem (and Mayhem) unfold below him, searching for a line into good news.

Spoiler: there isn’t any.

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Man Does Not Give is out on October 21 via PRC music. Follow Seputus on Facebook.

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