Desalmado – Mass Mental Devolution (2021)

The weekend is practically upon us! Here’s some politically-charged Brazilian death-grind for you!


DesalmadoMass Mental Devolution (Gruesome Records, 08 October 2021)


I’ll never understand the “separate the art from the artist” mantra that some people perpetually pontificate. I find out someone — whether it’s a musician, comedian, actor, filmmaker, or whatever — holds some deplorable views or has done terrible things, and it will forever discolor my view of that person and everything they’ve touched. I can no longer feel the same joyous reaction to that person’s artistic output that I may have felt previously.

Now, I’m not quite sure how common this viewpoint may be, but I find that sometimes the art/artist inseparability can go the other way as well. To some extent, at least. On occasions where I come across a person or band who is very vocally supportive of equality for oppressed people, or expressly against various forms of fascism, or generally seem like they stand for just and good causes — I naturally find myself more inclined to enjoy whatever they are producing. Or at least, I will make more of an attempt, perhaps listening to something longer than I might have otherwise or scrutinizing a bit further in hopes of finding something about it I’ll latch on to. It doesn’t always work that way, though: there are an unfortunate number of instances where I’ve discovered an artist whose viewpoints I strongly agree with, and yet despite a concerted effort to enjoy their creative works, sometimes some art is just objectively bad.

No such concerns with São Paulo’s Desalmado, though! The biography on the band’s website and in all their press releases describes “exposing the guts of a perverse and alienated world subservient to a system manipulated by the dominant classes” — cheers, comrades! — and one of their songs is titled “Esmague os Fascistas” (“Crush the Fascists”), but sociopolitical leanings notwithstanding, their third LP Mass Mental Devolution (which came out about a month ago) just hits hard in all the right places. Incorporating plenty of thrash and old-school death influences (of course — I mean, they are Brazilian after all), this is a form of grind that comes across sounding very clean, dry, dark, and cold.

Aggression abounds, as one would expect, but never in the chaotic and often sloppy way that tends to characterize the genre. For just one example, check out the way the guitars and drums mirror each other with almost-military precision in the intro to “Across the Land.” Minor-key riffs, and a general sense of darkness and coldness permeates throughout the record, as a perfect backdrop for the band to put their message out there — resulting in kind of a having-cake-and-eating-it situation where the content is good AND the medium through which that content is disseminated also sounds great. So no need for separating art from artist here! Unless you happen to be PRO-fascism for some reason, in which case, you really ought to quit reading this and spend some time seriously reassessing your life choices.






Mass Mental Devolution is now streaming at Bandcamp (see below); you can buy a copy here (US) or here (EU).


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