Suffering Hour – In Passing Ascension

In Passing Ascension is an ode to the terrifying unhumanity of life, of the howling of the void, of the vast emptiness behind the veil of existence and of power of the infinite that looms above all of us. Sometimes technical, always strange, and coming from a diverse source of influences that intertwine gorgeously, Suffering Hour have created a sound that’s all their own. The band self describes their influences as ranging from Dead Congregation to The Chasm and Mgla, and you can really hear the sheer amount of things going into the album. With blistering leads soaring above slower sections of atmospheric dissonance, with each warped section providing not only a unique and memorable flavor but a fantastic listening experience for those lucky enough to have stumbled into the album, the music ebbs and flows through the forty minute duration of the album, never losing any of the power that In Passing Ascension immediately starts with.

The band refer to themselves as “cosmic blackened death metal” and that description makes sense even from the very beginning of the album. In Passing Ascension opens with a mixture of the various types of riffing and atmospheres that make up the release before launching into the album proper. Swirling and layered guitarwork, relentless drumming, and varied vocal styles showcase the band’s songwriting and technical ability, while frequent tempo changes keep any one song from becoming monotonous. Shifts in direction from ripping death metal to slower sections of slowly scraped eerie chords a la some of the more dissonant modern black metal bands keep the pace of the album from ever getting too familiar; intense attention is required to absorb the nuances of the music, lest the listener lose pace and get lost in the chasm that Suffering Hour creates with their music.

Moving past the songwriting, it’s important to note how great the production is; mastered by Resonance Sound Studio, the album is dynamic, massive, and clear without ever feeling overly clean, and each instrument is given its own space to breath and exist in a way that often gets lost with this sort of material. Guitar, drum, and bass tones are on point, as is the mixing of the drums (often a tough point for extreme metal bands).

This release has impressed me on every level, and I eagerly await my copy of it getting here on wax. I’ve been excited for this to come out since the first singles put out by Blood Harvest Records, and the album doesn’t disappoint.

Support and listen here.

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Review: Tomb Mold – Primordial Malignity

Tomb Mold has only existed for a year and has already quickly made a name for themselves as one of the better and one of the more unique modern death metal bands; exploding into creation with two demos last year and now an album this year. I became aware of them almost immediately after their first demo, The Bottomless Perdition, came out due to a Canadian acquaintance sending it over, and it totally blew me away; blisteringly raw and chaotic, it was fundamentally a tribute to the classic Finnish death metal scene that I love so much and it immediately marked Tomb Mold as a band to be watched.

They soon put out another absolutely killer demo, which contained the first version of one of the songs on the album and marked a step towards the sound that they’ve embraced for the album- more complex, a bit less raw, no less killer.

Then came Primordial Malignity, which blew away all of my already extremely high expectations and is currently my favorite album to have been released this year, as of the time of this review, and quickly over repeated plays coming to be an early call for a recent favorite in general. Gone are the caverns of screaming noise; instead, there’s an organic crush of decay, beating down listeners into the abyss. The music is as strange and harrowing as I was hoping, but Tomb Mold have developed far beyond the base (if fucking killer) Finnish worship of their early demo material into something that I didn’t foresee at all but am extremely pleased with. They have evolved to play a style of death metal that, while retaining the same Finnish influence, has integrated the band’s other influences and identities as musicians to become something all their own. Fast and bouncing leads, ghastly rhythms, and horrifying snarling vocals are complemented by fantastic drumming that drives everything forward splendidly. Whenever a riff is played enough to even hint at becoming overly familiar, not only does the riff change but often the tempo does as well, with rapidfire changes between the bizarre twangs of Tomb Mold’s leads and a few more straightforward sections keeping the entire album grounded. Brief solos pop in and out for just long enough to impress without ever being distracting at all, which is how I think that death metal solos should be- I’m a much bigger fan of the Disma approach towards soloing than the Malmsteen one (at least in my death metal), and the Disma approach towards soloing is the one that the album has taken.

Filthy, massive, and just long enough to feel like a proper album without staying on for a second longer than the band felt like it had to (just barely surpassing the half hour mark), Tomb Mold have written an album to be listened to again…and again….and again.

 

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Support and listen here.

 

 

 

 

Review: Fetid – Sentient Pile of Amorphous Rot

Washington’s Fetid has sprung out of nowhere, fully formed and ready to bash in heads- or at least, that’s how it must seem to people that aren’t aware that Fetid enjoyed a previous existence as Of Corpse. Disgusting and lo-fi churning death metal played with the sensitivity of a caveman, Sentient Pile of Amorphous Rot rips, grooves,  and chugs through four massive songs that don’t let up through the entire playtime of the demo. The band’s name, the demo’s title, and even each of the songs evokes in their names the general purpose of Fetid: to drown listeners in horror, rot, and the eternal decay of the foul, heartless grave.

Captivating from the very start, the riffs are pummeling, sometimes grinding, and are consistently memorable. Jumping between various takes on many of the same lurching verse riffs, tempo changes are frequent through the course of the demo, and never leave the listener time to get comfortable at any particular speed (though there’s a certain speed and style to each of the changes that is repeated through the demo). Ripping sections of grinding death return to constantly pummeling groovy sections, and each are regularly offset by sections of doom and gloom that hark back to the stylings of massive ancient death metal like Autopsy or Rottrevore. The vocals gurgle at the bottom of the mix without much variety, providing atmosphere by way of rhythmic assault rather than ever attempting to jump over the riffs; given the styling of the rest of the demo, they suit the music perfectly. The low end is absolutely massive, and the drumming is extremely competent, never overwhelming the music but often filling out the sound with quick flourishes and tasteful fills.

The production is another highlight, as it’s properly raw and old school sounding (as it should be, being that it was recorded analog to a four-track) without sacrificing clarity or power; in particular, I’m impressed with how well the drums pop out without overpowering anything else, given how hard it is for bands to get good drum recordings at all, let alone on their own on their own tape deck.

Despite being firmly entrenched in the stylings of the bygone glory of the death metal scene of the early ’90s, and being easily comparable at certain sections to many of the bands from the time period, Fetid have their own identity, and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing more from them.

Get a tape from Headsplit Records while they last, and check out the demo on YouTube.

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