“Oakland, California has summoned the rituals of many metal legions over the decades. Its stench is filled with dark art, morbid riffs, death and doom. There’s a scorched place in the corner of the crumbling landscape evoking evil and witchy magic where Larvae feast on the remains of those who perished.”
In the press materials, those evocative words precede the release of Larvae‘s long-awaited second album Entitled to Death, which (to quote again from the same materials) “pursues a human experience, traversing the middle realm seen thru the eyes of a defected warrior,” who is bound to a grim and hostile reality “until the final collapse in a land filled with ruin and loss… crossing over into a cosmic abyss.”
In the musical telling of this uncomfortable tale Larvae draw inspiration from such divergent ’90s legends as Runemagick, Paradise Lost, Immolation, Bolt Thrower, Neurosis, and Dismember. How they interweave those influences might be difficult to guess, but today no guessing game is needed because we have the complete album stream for you.
Plenty of experience lies behind Entitled To Death. Now operating as a trio, the band consists of founding member vocalist/ guitarist/ engineer Brad Kobylczak (Eulogy, Kuru, Machine Head, Green Day), bassist Wyatt Culbertson (Born/Dead, Abrupt), and drummer Eric Evert (Rebels Advocate) — and they all shine.
If you consider the album as a protagonist’s harrowing journey through a hostile and hallucinatory wasteland toward the void of death, the trip begins with the album’s title track. Ravens caw and thunder rumbles, providing an ominous prelude to the slither and buzz of misery-soaked guitars. But even in this first song, the riffing changes in ways that channel feelings of madness, cutting like swift sickles and blurting in bizarre pulsations.
The song also segues into ruthless, jackhammering attacks that turn up the adrenaline. The drums clatter and clobber, the bass bubbles and slugs, the vocals vent the words in imperious, reverberating growls. Yet madness reigns even in these marauding assaults, the insanity amplified by squealing strings and freakish soloing that generates an atmosphere of the supernatural. Groaning, moaning, and wailing guitars also shift the mood into agony and despair.
It’s an attention-grabbing way to begin the musical excursion. It demonstrates that Larvae have a talent for crafting doom-laced melodies with piercing power, but an equally formidable talent for generating sensations of savage barbarity and brute-force trauma, while shrouding everything with an atmosphere of unearthly horror.
As the journey continues, Larvae repeatedly demonstrate the kind of multi-faceted dynamism so vividly revealed in the opener. In doing so, the multi-toned guitars (both ugly as sin in their sound, and ethereally ghostly) continue to play a prominent role, but the recordings give equal prominence to the rapidly changing drumwork (which seems capable of cracking skulls, racing like wild stallions, and pile-driving into concrete) and the vivid, gut-rumbling and gravel-chewing contortions of the bass.
The band also continue using samples at the outset of songs to trace the protagonist’s daunting and doomed journey, as well as those harsh growling and screaming vocals that seem to echo off of crypt walls. Clarion-clear, reverb-laden soloing also repeatedly seizes attention, while underscoring the music’s changing moods — and the moods do indeed change repeatedly. The music creates phases of morbid gloom, blood-chilling cruelty, violent delirium, hopeless anguish, full-throttle ferocity, and rock-crushing brutishness (the kind that’s serious headbang-fuel).
What will also become apparent is that Larvae favors the kind of elaborate songwriting that often creates all these sensations within the same song, but giving varying degrees of emphasis on them (and varying momentums) from track to track. The music’s visceral, muscular “physicality” powerfully anchors all the changes, and the band also repeatedly succeed in locating the events within eerie, otherworldly realms, perhaps especially in the strange and strangely inviting album closer “The Stars Spelled Death“. Needless to say, all this means there’s no risk of losing interest, no risk of monotony.
We’ll now leave you with Larvae‘s own words to cap off our own:
“Entitled to Death is our first album as a three-piece. It’s a bit more primitive than other Larvae releases but there’s an ebb and flow. It’s a morbid and dynamic story about crossing over into a cosmic abyss, fraught with death and doom. Misery is on the rise and societal collapse is seen through the eyes of a soldier, wanderer and lover of life. They have an epiphany: death awaits all who live. Those who live, are entitled to death.”
Entitled To Death will be released on April 7th by Fucking Kill Records, and you’ll find more info about how to get it via the links below.
The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Earhammer by Greg Wilkinson, and it was produced by Brad Kobylczak, with cover art by Andrei Bouzikov and additional artwork by Jason V Roberts, Eric Radey, and Bryce Shelton. Ross Sewage handled the layout design.