Let me put my cards on the table: I fucking loved Appalling‘s first two albums, 2017’s Secrets of the Adept and 2019’s Inverted Realm. Both of them were powerfully rendered amalgams of chaos and catastrophe, and well-calculated to infect the mind with memorable hooks in the midst of sensations that were both exhilarating and unnerving. Progress was also evident in moving from the first to the second, creating a conviction that these Virginians would continue striving to improve on a very solid foundation.
I make this confession because it means I was already prone to favor the band’s forthcoming third album Sacrilege, especially because it’s being released by a label that’s quickly proved to have dependably good taste (Personal Records) but also because it means expectations on this side were high. Was I disappointed?
Well, you can guess the answer to that question, given today’s premiere of a song named “Pavilion“, but I’ll eliminate the guesswork.
We live in ugly times, and not only ugly but also infuriating. Deception runs rampant, fears get stoked from all quarters, and too damned many people (including would-be theocrats) feel it’s their mission in life to tell other people how to live, and to try to compel compliance when they can.
When you hear the intertwining of black and death metal on Sacrilege (a well-chosen title), you can feel the ugliness, and the fury. The band seem to revel in what others self-righteously call sin, and seem to welcome proclamations of damnation with raised fists and hot blood. In other words, the three years since their last album haven’t diluted Appalling’s venom in the slightest. If anything, the beatings they administer have only become more savage, and the ferocity even more incendiary.
But those years also seem to have sharpened their already formidable song-writing and performance skills. The hooks are still there, and even fiendishly sharper. Take today’s song premiere as a prime example.
There’s wild frenzy in the riotous riffing and light-speed drum assaults, and howling madness in the vocals. The guitars maniacally swirl at blazing speeds, like dense swarms of hornets on fire, yet there’s still structure in what they’re doing — these mad riffs get under the skin — and the band also bring in brazen chord-fanfares that make the song sound defiant as well as viciously unhinged.
Just when you think Appalling might give you a chance to take a breath, they instead further spin up the adrenaline dial with a spectacularly delirious (and diabolical) extended guitar solo that both sears and electrifies. The music does begin to sound more cold and grim, and maybe even anguished, but those firebrand fanfare chords and berserk vocals elevate it again into a final crescendo of glorious mayhem.
Personal Records will release Sacrilege on CD and digital formats on December 2nd, and both are up for pre-order now. Not for naught does the label recommend the record for fans of 1349, Morbid Angel, Satyricon, and Vader.
Below you will also find streams of two previously released songs from the new album, “Father Inferior” and the album closer “These People Need to Die“, both of which reveal other dimensions of a multi-faceted album (but they won’t give you much chance to breathe either). The swaggering hooks in the first of those are part of what makes it a leading contender for our forthcoming 2022 Most Infectious Song list, and the other one is a firestorm that ends with a surprising twist.