AN NCS ALBUM PREMIERE (AND A REVIEW): FERUM — “ASUNDER / ERODE”
All fans of extreme metal know that Paolo Girardi is a painter who is capable of creating an extensive range of scenes and visions, albeit with a style that’s always immediately recognizable. What he has done for the cover of Ferum‘s debut album is a particularly ghastly and hideous visual nightmare. You can’t look away from it, though you might want to, and it’s hard to forget, try as you might. The question quickly presents itself: What will make your blood run more cold, that image or Ferum‘s music?
You’ll come to your own conclusion today, because we’re presenting a full stream of this debut album in advance of its August 19 release by Avantgarde Music / Unorthodox Emanations. The album’s name is Asunder / Erode.
Some of you may already be familiar with Ferum (whose name is the Latin word for “wild”, “untamed”, and “fierce”), thanks to their 2018 debut EP Vergence. They originated in Italy, but in 2020 their singer, guitarist and songwriter Samantha moved permanently to Estonia, and they recorded this first full-length under those conditions of separation. In addition, Ferum‘s line-up had changed, with Matteo Anzelini still fulfilling bass duties but with the Estonian performer Are Kangus (Kõdu, Hymenotomy) behind the drumkit.
What they’ve achieved together on the new album is described by the band’s labels as music that “has the boldness and rot of American death doom and the introspection and emotionality of English death doom”. The album is further described as one “that explores the idea of separation and its dichotomy, up to erosion and collapse”.
True to the album’s cover art, the music on Asunder / Erode is morbid and gruesome, creating an atmosphere of oppression and horror. The riffs channel menace and madness, backed by the work of a rhythm section that seems intent on punching straight through your body’s core and reveling in the gore that will come out the other side. Samantha‘s voice adds to the music’s ghastly aura, through guttural and gagging roars that rise into insane screams.
Those riffs also turn out to be insidiously infectious, even though they’re disturbing, and although the band live up to their doom-influenced moniker through funereal pacing, crushing grooves, and melodies of misery, hopelessness, and decay, you won’t forget why they chose the name for themselves they did: They’re equally capable of injecting their lumbering musical beast with adrenaline, causing it to leap and bound, to attack and ferociously rampage.
That becomes quickly evident from the very first song, “Halfhead“, which skitters and spasms, batters and jolts. Maniacal soloing spurts from the music like blood from a slashed vein, and swirls in a semblance of crazed, electrifying glee.
However, the persistent dynamism of the album is proven by the follow-on song, “The Undead Truth” (which features a guest performance by Mike Perun from Cianide). It drags the listener through a thick, oozing charnel pit. The riffing sounds like disease made into sound, a disease that eats the flesh from the inside-out and eventually causes fevers to catch fire. Yet the lead-guitar melody that eventually surfaces wails in agony, in piercing tones that become emotionally shattering.
Those two songs make for a formidable one-touch punch, revealing the changing facets of Ferum‘s forays into death and doom. In the songs that follow, the band continue to dramatically change the tempos and the moods, veering from passages of ruinous affliction and inconsolable anguish to powerful slug-fests that will get heads banging, as well as immersion in vats of congealing blood and boiling viscera.
Some things don’t change, however: The rumbling, stalking, and battering drums are always bone-cracking in their force, the bass lines remain bowel-loosening; the vocals sound voracious, noxious, and lethally insane; the guitar harmonies manipulate the listeners’ moods with aplomb; and the soloing channels sickness, despair, and derangement with skull-piercing intensity.
And now one last point about Paolo Girardi‘s horrifying cover art: As explained in greater detail here, its genesis was in the Samantha‘s desire “to represent the pain of duality in human form. One entity that grows into two and violently splits, changes, gives birth to something else, gets infected and becomes out of control”, and Paolo took that concept and represented it by drawing influence from both some traditional death metal covers he grew up with as well as “the Italian tradition of Caravaggio to painters from Veneto and German/Flemish [tradition]”.
Well, enough words, now please experience the album for yourselves, straight through the deeply haunting outro track, “Spesso Il Male Di Vivere Ho Incontrato“:
Asunder / Erode was recorded and mixed at Walter Productions in Tallin, Estonia by producer and sound engineer (and the band’s drummer) Are Kangus. (The studio is located inside the historic Tallinna Linnahall, a behemoth built during the Soviet occupation.) It was mastered by the great Dan Swanö.
The album will be released and performed in full at the Helsinki Death Fest 2022, which will also be the first concert with the new line-up. As mentioned above, Asunder / Erode will be out on August 19th via Unorthodox Emanations / Avantgarde Music, in CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats. It’s recommended for fans of Cyanide, Temple of Void, and Coffins.