Peter Paul Rubens: “The Fall of the Damned”
(Andy Synn helps us end our week-day posts (though more will be coming this weekend) with the following trio of reviews.)
I really feel like I’ve let you all down this week. I had originally intended to write a bunch of different articles this week, but somehow – primarily due to having to focus on work and band stuff instead – time has slipped through my fingers.
Still, better late than never, right? So here’s a quick write-up of a trio of killer EPs I’ve been jamming lately.
COSMOVORE – INTO THE NECROSPHERE
When I first discovered this band, via a random youtube stream I stumbled across, I didn’t know very much about them.
And, to be honest, I still don’t. All I know is that they’re German and their debut EP is some seriously good shit.
Built around a core of dense, down-tuned guitars, and bristling with jagged teeth of discordant anti-melody, these four tracks of abrasive, atmospherically oppressive Death Metal will instantly appeal to old-school aficionados of bands like Incantation and Morbid Angel just as much as new-school disciples who worship at the altar of Ulcerate and Altarage.
The opening title-track is six-and-a-half minutes of thunderous aggression and prowling, predatory horror, whose cavernous gutturals and colossal, clashing chords, seem to come tumbling out of some vast, lifeless abyss, while “Vessel” is (arguably) even more intense, layering its twisted riffs and blasting drum work with a grim shroud of eerie blackened dissonance and cruel disharmony.
Equal parts blistering Black Metal and many-angled Death Metal menace, “The Watchers” melds hypnotic, pulsating blastbeats and strangled, contorted tremolo – winding its way up and down the fretboard from a grinding, sub-sonic rumble to a savage, blinding shriek – with a veritable cacophony of gurgling gutturals and hair-raising howls, after which the titanic (and terrifying) strains of the aptly-named “All-Devourer” unleash a sonic maelstrom of such devastating, doom-laden force that it practically threatens to collapse in upon itself under its own weight.
A truly eye-opening, mind-blowing introduction to a band I hope, and fear, we’ll be hearing a lot more from very soon.
INSTIGATE – ECHOES OF A DYING WORLD
When Italian quartet (ok, so the drummer’s American, but we’ll let that slide for now) Instigate describe their new EP as being “for fans of Misery Index, Suffocation, and Dyscarnate” they’re displaying an enviable (and undeniable) amount of self-awareness, as these three tracks are exactly the sort of riff-packed, hook-heavy Death Metal that really gets my motor running.
Opener “Obliteration”, for example, is just one hefty, heavyweight riff-hammer after another, with the band switching up their attack between chunky, choppy rhythms and precise, rapid-fire blastbeats in a very Misery Index-esque manner.
The shorter and more savage “Embrace the End” balances Dyscarnate-style down-picked grooves with a pulverising mid-section of pure Suffocation and/or Aborted worship, and allows the band (especially drummer Kevin Talley) to show off both their hooky, rhythmic abilities and their more technical/brutal talents in equal measure.
Last, but by no means least, “Atonement” (which we premiered) hits the sweet spot between Hour of Penance and Hideous Divinity, welding the big, bombastic riffs of the former to the more chaotic complexity of the latter, to produce the EP’s most aggressive and extreme track, and while it doesn’t deliver the same hooks-to-heaviness ratio as the preceding pair, it still packs more than enough of a punch (plus just the tiniest dash of moody melody) to make sure you won’t be forgetting about it any time soon.
I’ll grant you that, on Echoes of a Dying World, Instigate are still very much standing on the shoulders of giants. But chances are, when we next hear from them, they’ll be more than ready (if they aren’t already) to go toe-to-toe with the big boys all on their own.
LIVING GATE – DEATHLUST
I always approach any band that has a whiff of the dreaded “supergroup” about it with a fair bit of trepidation. After all, most of them are just glorified side-projects trading on the name value of their members, with little-to-none of the creativity and chemistry which makes their main bands great.
But, blow me down, if Living Gate (ft. members of Amenra, Oathbreaker, Wiegedood, and Yob) aren’t just the exception which proves the rule.
Sounding absolutely nothing like any of the group’s normal bands, Deathlust is – like recent releases from Living Gate’s spiritual cousins in Tomb Mold, Outer Heaven, etc. – an attempt to exhume the fetid corpse of “old school” Death Metal and drag it firmly into the 21st century, without losing or altering what makes this classic sound so special.
Tracks like opener “The Delusion of Consciousness” and its darker, more atmospheric follow-up “Ropes” have to strike a careful balance in order to be successful. Not quite derivative, but still willingly bound by the tropes and traditions of the genre, nor totally innovative, yet still capable of tweaking and twisting the underlying template to suit their needs, the songs manage to inject an old sound with new blood without wandering into dangerously “progressive” or “post-” waters.
The former, for example, feels like a sharper, sprightlier Suffocation, while the latter pursues an approach akin to a more bleak and atmospheric Morbid Angel (you know, the kind of thing Nader Sadek pretty much perfected on In The Flesh).
The title-track is the unexpectedly playful mash-up of early Suffocation and Dismember that you never knew you wanted, a succulent New York-meets-Stockholm sandwich of meaty riffs and deliciously deathly rhythms, while “Heaven Ablaze” hammers and smashes away at your face like a subtly blackened version of Cannibal Corpse at their most focussed and precise.
Concluding with the eponymously titled “Living Gate”, all massive, doom-laden chords and blistering, blast-driven percussion, culminating in, dare I say it, an unexpectedly proggy outro, Deathlust works both as a tribute to a bygone age and a promise of greater things to come. And what more can you ask for than that?