Vocalist Anders Bo Rasmussen kicks off Deus Otiosus’ debut with five seconds of guttural hellish growls. Left channel, right channel and you’re away. Thirty seconds in and you’ll be in raptures; at least you will be if you’re a fan of solid, authentic ODSM.
Deus Otiosus’ debut Murderer sounds like a long forgotten early 90s underground classic. Raw, visceral and bitterly angry, it evokes an unprocessed blue-collar aesthetic built around sweaty basements and battering fans into submission. Deus Otiosus wouldn’t look out of place playing in a club in their hometown of Copenhagen circa 1992 and the album sounds exactly like something my teenage self would have expected to find in the mail from a Danish tape-trading pen pal.
Murderer is a devastatingly heavy mix of classic death metal riffs—mid-paced for the most part—with a hefty layer of early thrash and a menacing touch of early black metal (there’s riffs galore that reflect the cross-pollination of the early 90s metal scene). If you want some reference points think Asphyx, Grave and early Morbid Angel colliding with the underground thrash of early Sodom or Destruction. But keep in mind that those are just easy references; Deus Otiosus aren’t simply regurgitating what’s already been said.
“I Have Seen Him Slay” begins the album with that aforementioned growl and quickly you’re enveloped in the dank murkiness you’ve come to expect from talented OSDM crews. Lurching through the rest of the album you’re treated to plenty of furious death metal but regular changes in tempo ensure the songs don’t simply blur into one long streak of filth. “Whore limbs” is built around a slower paced thrash rooted riff—and has a great 80s inspired solo—while “ Thousand Arms of the Dead” draws in some darker elements with Rasmussen’s vocals adding plenty of acidity to the song.
Deus Otiosus haven’t set out to reinvent the wheel. There are a couple of brutally pummelling songs on Murderer, “No Life” and “Wall of Violence” in particular, that are pure nostalgic trips, chugging along with an impetus that’s reminiscent of the band’s reverence for the past. Of course there’s plenty who’d argue that looking back provides no forward momentum at all, but Deus Otiosus throw in a couple of numbers to remind you that although they have all the great hallmarks of 90s metal, there’s nothing stagnant or stilted about Murderer. “Ye Pigs of Little Faith”, with its angular cutting riff and throbbing bass, shows real promise for the band’s future.
Deus Otiosus’ debut is abrasive and uncompromising. The vocal lines never collapse into an impregnable mire, there’s an audible undercurrent of bass heaviness, great percussion, tons of stout riffs and a grimy production that harkens back to a time when brutality meant something more than simple guitar gymnastics. Layered with plenty of first wave death metal characteristics, and amply supported by a thick coating of thrash, Deus Otiosus are an excellent example of a band whose malevolent attributes demand your attention.