It’s the time of year when many of us are reflecting on what we heard in 2022, sorting it out, making lists, reducing our bank account balances… but for the moment I’m thinking about a musical plague that infected me last year for which a cure hasn’t yet been developed.
That plague, Crepitation Of Phlegethon, was the full-length debut of Occulsed. It ushered listeners into a world of terrors, a world created from sounds that spawned electrifying visions of horror and disease, of madness and mayhem, and of blood-freezing intrusions from spectral realms. As I wrote at the time we premiered it:
“It takes a rare kind of talent to make an album like this one, a death metal album that creates such a viscerally disturbing impact, one that preys upon its listeners’ most deep-seated fears and does so in such thrilling and paradoxically enthralling fashion…. It’s all rotten to the core and as creepy as confinement in a coffin filled with wriggling maggots…. The moods change as well, though almost all the moods are ghastly. The music is both predatory and hopeless, noxious and deranged, horrifyingly imperious and seemingly gleeful in its deviant revels”.
Where in the world did that plague come from? How was it spawned, how did it grow into such a mal-formed but unforgettable monstrosity? We have answers today.
As for the spawning of Occulsed, it grew from the union of guitarist/bassist Justin Stubbs (Father Befouled, Encoffination, etc.), drummer Jared Moran (Gastric Phantasm and roughly 100 other bands), and vocalist Kenneth Parker (Maestus, Lodge of the Empty Bed, etc.).
As for the growth (or perhaps we should say, the metastasizing), it can be traced from a debut demo in 2019 (Cenotaph to Putridity), onward through a second demo the next year (Ceremonial Lifelessness), and from thence to 2021’s Crepitation Of Phlegethon.
The album was so well-received among denizens of the underground that the label who released it, Everlasting Spew Records, decided to make a record of that rapid growth, a compilation of those two demos under the name Parturition Of Adulteration. The demos have been remastereed for this release, and as a further sweetener (this is of course a relative term in the rotten world of Occulsed), the compilation also includes a new Occulsed single named “Resiled Necromniscience“. And Everlasting Spew is releasing it on December 23rd, just in time to further loot your year-end bank accounts and ruin Christmas. Hooray!
Keen ears and incisive minds might identify a path of progression through the band’s earlier releases and chart it in detail. Lacking either of those capacities, I’ll just say that this compilation is a valuable addition to the library of all fiendish fans of death metal ferocity and foulness, especially because it provides the demos (and the new single) in a CD edition for the first time.
OK, I lied. I do have a few more things to say.
The compilation’s first three tracks, which originally appeared on Cenotaph to Putridity, staked out Occulsed‘s chosen grounds through a miasma of dense, dismal, gruesomely distorted riffage, maniacally clattering drumwork, freakish leads, and guttural vocals so gruesome, gagging, and gargantuan that cesspools would recoil in disgust. Occulsed also picked their moments to bring the hammers down and crawl through tar.
But that first demo has the feel of a teaser, because the songs and the track list were short, the whole thing gone by in 7 minutes, just long enough to prove Occulsed were onto something good — something mad and macabre that was effective at both making you feel queasy and kick-starting sodden hearts.
They built on that quagmire foundation with the next five songs on the compilation, the contents of Ceremonial Lifelessness. There, the track list and song lengths crept longer, and the sonic palate expanded in a way that made the music more gut-rumbling and brutishly crushing in the low end and even more berserk in the higher range where the guitars seethed, whined, and seared.
The growling, gurgling, and gagging vocals were as disgusting as ever, but the drumming seemed even more electrifying (and punishing), the songs more dynamic, and the deranged guitar interplay even more elaborate in their renderings of inhuman lunacy, eviscerating and explosive violence, flesh-eating disease, and morbid soul suffocation.
Unquestionably, Ceremonial Lifelessness showed a big step up from the first demo, vividly demonstrating Occulsed‘s fanatical devotion to sounds of savagery and sickness, and brilliantly paving the way toward the hideous delights of last year’s debut album.
And then there’s that “sweetener”, the new single “Resiled Necromniscience“. It’s… just… fucking… wild… the fastest, most berserk, most pile-driving track on the compilation, and a sonic portrayal not only of blood-quickening chaos but also of blood-congealing horror on a grand scale. Somehow, Occulsed continue to find new ways of ruining bodies and minds.
As mentioned above, Everlasting Spew is providing this compilation in a special CD edition, as well as digitally, with apparel. They recommend it for fans of Incantation, Morpheus Descends, Funebrarum, and Blaspherian.