The Ancient Greek word katabasis referred to a journey into the underworld — the Hades of myth — but in time it has come to refer to travels into the realm of the dead in tales beyond the stories of Odysseus and Orpheus.
“Katabasis” is also the name of the song we’re premiering today from the debut album of the Italian/German band Nekus, and as song titles go, this one was a perfect choice — because the music is horrifying and hopeless, supernatural and suffocating.
It does seem to rudely usher us into an ugly, abominable place where only the dead may dwell, and suffering is endless. But as you’ll discover, the song is also a sonic cataclysm of immense destructive power.
The album that includes this song, Sepulchral Divination, will be released in April by Sentient Ruin Laboratories. The label describes the album as “over fifty minutes of aphotic, downtuned subsonic horror emanating from the wretched bowels of the abyss”, creating a “crawling nightmare of horrid, telluric mummified death doom”, and plunging listeners into “a decomposing, lightless, sinkhole of putrefied sonic emanations opening an abyss unto the dimensions below the earth’s crust”.
Vividly morbid and macabre words! Aod not an exaggeration — as you’re about to discover.
The song “Katabasis” sounds like being suddenly caught in a high-speed sonic avalanche, quickly overpowering the listener with mauling distorted riffage, tumultuous drum-thunder, and subterranean bass undulations. Is that your own screaming you hear within the maelstrom? Well, it might be, because the violence is extreme and there’s no way out.
The snare beats do occasionally become more steady, but the ruinous fretwork upheaval is relentless, and the drums repeatedly get caught up in it again with full-throttle blasting. Gruesome gutturals echo off cavern walls, but they continue to erupt in shrieking torment, and hideous guitar and bass pulsations radiate from the cataclysms.
There does come a point when the band ruthlessly pound and the guitar moans and whines in agony, the only time when a listener’s heart-rate might slow, but it’s no reprieve from the track’s devastating impact, just a different vision of desolation. At the end, the sounds extinguish all light in swaths of gruesome aural radiation and the slowing of the drums into the silence of death.
Sentient Ruin compares Sepulchral Divination to such other sepulchral death and doom metal abominations as Grave Upheaval, Moss, Anatomia, and Encoffination. It will release the album on 2LP, MC, CD, and digital formats on April 7.