(Our long-time writer DGR has been very busy catching up with recent releases that struck his interest in different ways, and today we begin a daily run of reviews that will carry on through next week. This one is for a new EP by the Scottish band Penny Coffin that was released in April via Dry Cough Records and At With False Noise.)
We’ve long specialized in stumbling headfirst into the world of the oppressively dark and suffocating. Rarely would you see a website describe itself as having a knack for something and it certainly couldn’t be said that we’re skilled seekers of the style; it’s more like a drunken crash through the wall when the entrance door is just two feet over. The latest one to send that shock to our system – or be rudely awakened by our door-crashing — is the group Penny Coffin and their latest release.
Penny Coffin come to us by way of Scotland with their third EP – the band currently on a schedule of one EP a year – Conscripted Morality. Conscripted Morality saw release in early April and was one of the many tumbling into the whirling abyss of the internet discoveries that found themselves captured in the great content maw, with the purpose of allowing us to investigate when things here sort of lightened up.
Playing a style of grossly-heavy death metal with an emphasis on brutalizing and equally brain-rotting guitar chug, it’s shocking that the band haven’t fought their way onto this here site before, because Conscripted Morality‘s brand of bleak-and-grey mud is perfectly suited to find some listeners around here.
Conscripted Morality is four songs and twenty-five minutes of weighty death metal that moves with the force of herculean labors. Penny Coffin collect a handful of differing styles into their own brand of filth — absorbing the braindead chug that is constantly worming its way into and out of the death metal scene, the ever-present sewage-dwelling with just enough murk that things consistently feel suffocating, and a sort of crawling anger that is ever-boiling in the background. When you reach a song like “Slowdive”, which seems to be taking issue with absolutely everything on this planet and how it’s heading to hell, the combination of those three makes a sort of absolute sense.
Conscripted Morality specializes in grinding people into dust between its wheels by that point in the EP, after you’ve already been softened from the constant assault of a song like opener “Ballistic” – a title fitting for a song seemingly written to match the title, with enough guitar squalls in the middle of its musical apocalypse to sound like an end of the world siren – and “Predator”, the sludgier of the two songs and the one that begins the trend of Conscripted Morality‘s songs each getting longer as the EP continues.
The titular “Conscripted Morality” song is the obvious one that this cycle of music seems to swirl around. It starts with enough grey smoke in the atmosphere that it seems like the band could’ve been performing amidst a recently demo’d building. “Conscripted Morality” is the brand of heavy that is continent-moving, slow enough to make every step feel like a labored crawl and with an opening rhythm section empty-headed enough to lose an audition contest to a park bench.
After three songs of auditory suffocation prior to it, it’s hard to imagine an opening few minutes that could continue the death metal relay but Penny Coffin manage to accomplish it within the starting of “Conscripted Morality”. Hell, the one main guitar melody that hovers above all of it almost feels like a life raft thrown into a pool of tar by the point it arrives in the song. There’s a dense seven minutes here that could either be the band hammering the hell out of themselves or the slow, recorded crushing of a vocalist. You take your pick by the end of it.
If it isn’t clear by the way “Predator” ends – with a double-bass roll drilling its way into the listener’s head – Penny Coffin specialize in death metal that bathes itself in coffin dust. Conscripted Morality is a release meant to be angry and ferocious, taking its time with its boiling nihilism in hopes of dragging you down with it. With an atmosphere this relentlessly heavy, Penny Coffin have a weapon perfect for bashing heads. It is not friendly nor in any way approachable, but it’s not meant to be. This is a release where you take one glance at the logo and cover art and know full well you’re in for a real gross crawl through the sludge of death metal.
Penny Coffin have crashed together a lot of ugly and malformed syles here into their own monster with Conscripted Morality, and if you’re on the hunt for something that could seem to be crawling back up from being six feet under the ground, you could do yourself a huge favor in checking this one out.