Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Teitanblood - Death (Norma Evangelium Diaboli/The Ajna Offensive)

Hideously oppressive is the most apt description I can come up with to describe the most recent offering from Spanish black/death masters Teitanblood, simply entitled Death. Their caustic approach on the unholy combination is ferocious and unforgiving and wholly indicative of the blunt, vague title of the album. Released in conspiracy by two of the most excellent and unwavering underground record labels currently active; Norma Evangelium Diaboli and The Ajna Offensive, Death stands as a tribute to all things occult. The cryptic cavernous atmosphere the band creates would be a fitting soundtrack to any blood-lusting, deranged, midnight ritual. 

Straight out of the gate "Anteinfierno" rips forward with reckless abandon. Guitar's screech and wail over a churning mass of riffs while drums pound furiously at the same breakneck speed. It's barbaric, band members NSK and J are a duo who can conjure forth some of the most brutally devastating music imaginable. Going past just blurring the lines between black and death metal by creating an ungodly mixture of the two, Teitanblood have crafted a formula of sheer primitive force and by primitive I in no way mean rudimentary. Both musicians technical prowess is immense, instead what they create sounds archaic and ancient, like a long forgotten crypt with detailed carvings by the madmen that built it. The knuckle-dragging opening of "Sleeping Throats of the Antichrist" is a perfect example of the savagery Teitanblood wield in every single chord and crushing blow. The song is also layered with haunting operatic vocals, which, combined with the muddy, swarming madness of the instrumentation create an even deeper sense of the occult religiousness Teitanblood set forth to evoke. 

Death is a very different beast than Teitanblood's also astonishing debut Seven Chalices, the debut contained numerous ambient tracks to cut through it's cryptic madness. Death provides the listener no such escape (save for short introductions), instead Teitanblood reign down blow after blow, each track more deranged than the last. "Plagues of Forgiveness" begins with yet another complete disregard for sanity and does not let up throughout it's entirety save for a short moment of pummeling doom drenched horror which is not exactly an escape from the madness. Death is also less formless than the band's recent EPs Purging Tongues and Woven Black Arteries (both of which are excellent), opting for a more straightforward approach to their arcane craft. The short interlude to the track "Cadaver Synod" provides grating noise before the jarring annihilation that follows. The opening riffing of the track is reminiscent of a horribly decomposed and disfigured rendition of Slayer's "Black Magic" full of driving riffs that eventually descend into pure madness as guitars begin to squeal over the bestial mayhem. The whole album acts as a descent into chaos, every cavernous chord and warlike strike of the drums heralding the approach of complete and utter devastation. 

After the seething interlude of "Unearthed Veins" complete with incoherent guttural incantations "Burning in Damnation Fires" greets the listener with diabolical riffing and manic vocals. Some of which come courtesy the mighty Chris Reifert (of Autopsy fame) whom Teitanblood enlisted to assist them in their horrible quest to descend further into pandemonium. Lyrics summoning the damned into the pit are sickeningly spewed forth and accompanied by Teitanblood's vile mania, layer upon layer of horrible noise are thrust upon the listener. The final blow of Death is upon us with "Silence of the Great Martyrs" opening with ritualistic chanting before the immense riffing power of Teitanblood presents itself again. The vocals on the track are astounding, absolutely indecipherable and possessed. As Death reaches it's mayhemic apex the fury subdues, giving way to something even more sinister. Church bells chime out while eerie ambience and religious chanting take the place of the blistering aggression. The conclusion is just as unsettling as the savagery of the rest of the album, acting as epilogue to Teitanblood's ritual of religious destruction.

Death is an exercise in severity. It seems that NSK and J were intent on bringing absolute obliteration with the release of this megalith and they have most certainly succeeded. The Spanish duo have created one of the most deadly albums of the year. It can be purchased through The Ajna Offensive, this is not an album to sleep on, if you haven't already, buy this and experience total death.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Coffinworm - IV.I.VIII (Profound Lore Records)

Coffinworm are a band that combine knuckle dragging caveman doom, swampy sludge murk, distorted and horrific death metal, blistering grind, and blackened blasts all performed with a vitriol that is shockingly brutal. Though Coffinworm touch upon nearly every sub-genre in the extreme metal cannon their music never feels incoherent or scatterbrained, rather they effortlessly combine all the defining characteristics from all theese styles into a bleak and twisted concoction of crushing madness. Every malicious shriek and growl is a misanthropic curse upon mankind, filled with mysticism and complete disregard for life. On IV.I.VIII Coffinworm push their horribly ugly sound even further towards insanity.

"Sympathectomy" begins the album with a blackened grinding assault. Guitars churn forth blistering riffs while the bass and drums rip forward, giving the track a massively heavy low end. The bass is extremely present throughout the whole album, as with all great doom and sludge albums. Bassist Todd Manning's playing is the muddy glue that holds this madness together, either plodding along or galloping forward ferociously with the guitars. Speaking of the guitars, the dual guitar approach the band takes is perfectly executed, creating the haunting yet brutal atmosphere I've come to expect from Coffinworm. The beginning of "Black Tears" is a trudging doomy section ripe with bleak dissonant chords. Riffs that cloud the mind with black murk, hypnotizing the listener in their decrepit doom. Coffinworm craft songs that sound distinctly their own, there are really no comparative artists to grasp on to because their music is so different from anything due to the sheer quantity of styles reflected in their horrible ilk. They even bring flourishes of noise into the frenzy on the track "Of Eating Disorders and Restraining Orders" creating another level of horrific destruction. Every track on this album contains a different mixture of the aforementioned styles, keeping the album interesting, making the listener anticipate which ungodly mixture of styles will assault their ears next.

It would be imposible for me to continue forward without talking about the lyrics contained in IV.I.VIII, vocalist and lyricist Dave Britts conjures some of the most interesting and deranged lyrics I have ever had the pleasure in reading. Through exposing the harsh realities of the world we live in, yet cloaking them in mysticism, Britts creates an interesting juxtaposition between our world and other unearthly realms, seeming to speak to the idea that the world is far more twisted and horrible than commonly thought. Every track is laced with this sort of urban occultism with lyrics like, "Shooting syringes made of filed-down bones/Injecting the filth left from our subconscious minds/Stemming from our previous lives" Britt's continuously brings together blunt realism and surreal occult elements throughout the entirety of the album. All the lyrics are spewed forth by Britts either in a venomous rasp or a deafening guttural roar.

IV.I.VIII is simply put a record that pushes the sonic boundaries of extreme metal to new heights. It is clear that every member of this band is a gigantic supporter of the underground scene and has been for some time. The evidence lies in the band's ability to craft a record so unlike anything else (besides their debut) from stylistic reference points across the metal spectrum. The album is available for purchase from Profound Lore here and streaming here. Yet another success from Coffinworm, a band I will continuously support and keep an eye out for, as should you.