The Sceptic – Psychopathological
If you order four or more CD's at a time from Willowtip, they send you free stuff from their "shitbox." Psychopathological came from said box, and my expectations were pretty low, given the horrible artwork (note to bands: putting fat, bloody people on album covers does NOT make people want to buy them). The logo, too, was straight out of the "glut-of-death-metal" '90s. Plus, on the back cover, one band member was credited with "programmed drums." I was skeptical, so to speak.
Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to hear five songs of ripping old-school death metal, done the way it should be done - blastbeats, chunky riffs, tremolo picking, low but intelligible death growls, and just enough melody. These guys have got that old-school feeling down. I got a vibe that I seriously haven't felt since the '90s, from Carcass, Death, all that good stuff. That means, of course, that this band breaks no new ground; but then again, 99% of bands don't (which leads to things called "genres").
The programmed drums are actually decent. No one would mistake them for real drums, and the programming skill isn't as high as, say, with Necrophagist. But they do the job, and once one adjusts to their rigidity, one starts focusing on what's important - the guitars. I get a strong Symbolic-era Death vibe here, which is always a good thing. The leads are fluent and run the gamut from sweep picking to tasteful dive bombs to Heartwork-esque melodies. As I list these references, I realize these guys aren't as brutal as their artwork suggests (even the band name is later Death-esque). But there are already tons of ultra-brutal bands anyway, and it's rare to hear guitar work this effective and enjoyable.
The lyrics make no sense ("Neurotic manners/Of a mental illness/Languid capacity/Unbalanced personality," etc.), but The Sceptic gets a free pass since they're Brazilian. I wish more bands sang in their native languages, which often sound so much more bad-ass than English (check out !T.O.O.H.! for crazy vocals in Czech). Sure, English is more "universal," but if you're going to butcher it and no one understands the vocals anyway, why not grunt and growl in your native language? That's a tangential gripe, which in no way should affect one's enjoyment of these songs.
The Sceptic - Psychocenesis
The Sceptic - Soul Sickness
This self-released EP has no bar code/Amazon presence/etc., so to get it, you should contact the band via its website.