I’ve been hungry for this new album ever since I first caught wind that it was on the way. That greediness was based entirely on finding out who was in the band, and the names of the people who had contributed as guest or session musicians. The leading roles were filled by the very busy Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ursinne, Henry Kane, Pale King), who was responsible for the music and its production, and by vocalist Ralf Hauber (Revel In Flesh), with Erik Bevenrud (Down Among the Dead Men) as the session drummer. And to add to those names, Matt Moliti (Sentient Horror) performed guitar solos on three tracks, and Håkan Stuvemark (Wombbath, Pale King) soloed on two others.
With that line-up and those additional contributors, I had little doubt this new collaboration, which goes under the name Heads For the Dead, was going to be good. The question was, how good? And the further question concerned the direction that Petterson pursued in the music. Death metal, of course, but that’s a very broad label, and Petterson has already proven that he’s capable of venturing off in more than one direction beneath that big banner.
Well, now we have some clues for you. One track premiered earlier this month from this new album, Serpent’s Curse, and today we’ve got a second one in advance of its release by Transcending Obscurity Records on September 24th.
This new song us simply immense in almost every way — except when it sends shivers down the spine under the cold touch of a phantom. It’s immense in the force of its impact, immense in its heaviness, and immensely horrifying in its atmosphere. Doom looms as a staggering presence in this brand of death metal; ghost lights also shine within it; and violence lurks within as well — a violent presence that breaks its chains more than once.
Strange warbling notes, which seem almost like the tones of a violin coming in and out between our dimension and another one, begin and end the track, and the eeriness of those tones proves to be a fitting start and finish. In between those passages, the band shake the earth with massive, slow, craggy riffs and rhythms. Deeply corroded tonality is married to deeply ominous melody, and Ralf Hauber‘s ruthless, gargantuan roars are as craggy and cold as the music. Through this slow, staggering earthquake, the guitar leads spin out moaning, squalling, shimmering sounds, like the emanations of spectres in a freezing mist, as ephemeral in their atmosphere as the rest of the music is mountainously heavy.
But as suggested earlier, there are eruptions of violence that are just as staggering and just as horrific as the song’s slower movements. The sounds from the lead guitar turn into a boiling malignancy, and the riffing accelerates into a storming, cutting frenzy. It’s as if a looming black giant has suddenly and magically transformed into a whirlwind of obsidian knives. Near the final minute, Matt Moliti unleashes a fiery, phosphorescent solo, which leaps out like a demon.
Serpent’s Curse comes with cover art by Branca Studio (Paradise Lost, Beastmaker); the band’s logo was created by the ghastly Mark Riddick; and Francesco Gemelli (Towards Atlantis Lights, Katatonia, Master) handled the layout. The album will be released by Transcending Obscurity Records in a multitude of vinyl and CD editions, as well as digitally, and pre-order opportunities can be found via the first link below.
Earlier this month Toilet Ov Hell premiered an official video for the album’s title, and we’ve included that one along with today’s premiere of “Deep Below”.
HEADS FOR THE DEAD: