Jul 192023

(Andy Synn delves into the depths of Outer Heaven‘s new album, set for release on Friday)

It’s no secret that I’ve found a lot of Death Metal albums this year to be both overhyped and underwhelming.

Sure, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with giving people what they want – I mean, The O’Jays wrote a whole song about it – but sometimes it often feels as though large swathes of the Death Metal scene (especially those of the “Old School” persuasion) are more concerned with preaching to the choir than with finding their own voice.

But what I love about Outer Heaven (and, if you remember, I really loved their first album) is that they don’t just play to the cheap seats.

Heck, on Infinite Psychic Depths it feels like they aren’t all that bothered about playing to the crowd at all, with the result being an album that’s a little bit uglier, and a little bit more unorthodox, than both its predecessor and the majority of its peers.

There’s a certain irony to the fact that the group’s willingness to go against the grain is such a big part of what makes them so likable, and it seems to me that the very fact that this album is a little more demanding – you really have to dig in and immerse yourself in order to fully savour and appreciate all its different fetid flavours – is what ultimately makes it that much more rewarding (and gives it, potentially, that much more staying power) than its more crowd-pleasing rivals.

That’s not, however, to say that Infinite Psychic Depths doesn’t know how to make an impact.

Both “Pillars of Dust” and “Pallasite Chambers”, for example – the former featuring a suitably unhinged appearance by Pig Destroyer‘s J.R. Hayes, the latter being bolstered by a guest spot from Undeath‘s Alexander Jones – are packed full of the sort of tendon-twisting riffs and flesh-ripping hooks that are practically guaranteed to leave a lasting impression (and, quite possibly, a few physical scars too).

But it’s the unexpected curve-balls – the more overt Punk/Grind influences in “Fragmented Suspension” and “Starcrusher”, the unexpectedly lithe and nimble bass-lines and psychotropic, pseudo-melodic leads which weave their way through stellar stand-outs like “Liquified Mind” and killer closer “From Nothingness to Eternity”, and so on – which demonstrate that there’s always something else, something more, going on beneath all the layers of grim fury and grimy metallic filth.

And that, I would say, is why the title Infinite Psychic Depths is such an apt one.

Because while there’s no questioning the band’s extremity – I’d argue that, overall, this is an even heavier and nastier album than their debut, as demonstrated by its crushing six-minute centre-piece, “Rotting Stone/DMT” – it’s what’s going on under the surface which really sets this record apart and provides a disturbing glimpse, however fleeting it may be, into the group’s collective madness.

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