When a cover like the one pictured above arrives in your inbox any metal writer should be given pause. First of all, it’s awesome. Second of all, that logo rules. Third, there’s a badass skull front an center (with teeth). Finally, there’s some heavily studded armbands. Now, can this band deliver? Because that is one hell of a first impression. I’ll hand it to them, they back it the ‘f’ up. Occult Burial are not only obsessed with sick covers but they also love speed riffs, thrash metal and some old school butchery. Thus, Hideous Obscure is more than just a pretty cover to hang above your toilet. It’s a “take no prisoners” style of album that’s sure to bash in the hood of your neighbors car all while you are asleep.
With three demos (and a split) under their belt, Occult Burial are finally prepared to unleash an LP on the world. Taking inspiration from bands like Sodom, Destruction, Toxic Holocaust, Hellhammer and early Bathory, Occult Burial could really be from anywhere on this earth. Wouldn’t surprise anyone listening if I told you they were from Brazil or Mexico or even Germany. Hailing from somewhere not nearly as interesting or exotic as those places, Occult Burial make their home in Ottawa. And for all they lose in mystique they make up for in lyrics crafted directly from witchcraft and evil lore of old.
Their tracks span the gauntlet of thrash and speed tracks like “Blasted Death” and “Hades Son” to more traditional heavy metal with tracks like “Ancient Returns” and “Hideous Obscure” and even some raw black metal, crust influenced tracks like “Hades Son.” Whatever the style, Occult Burial always wrap up their compositions in tidy blood-filled bows.
The faster, thrashier tracks provide heaping helpings of quickly picked guitars matched with blistering drums beaten as if with iron fists. While the production is purposely lacking in favor of rawness, there is no doubt as to the bands abilities. The guitars simply fly and, while solos are eschewed in favor of rhythmic pounding and pure adrenaline, there is enough rhythmic distinction in the breakdowns that the listener can expect to remain enthralled throughout. Even on tracks like “Blasted Death” feature almost zero vocals (but do provide a brief solo if you wait long enough).
On the other hand, Occult Burial can also fly off the previously mentioned tracks that lean towards a more traditional heavy metal pattern. Perhaps “A Witch Shall be Born” best melds the two styles. A classic heavy metal riff includes a typically thrash influenced solo along with the liquidy thin (but perfect) vocals of Joël Thomas. That track, more than others, reveals the songwriting ability that Occult Burial employ, particularly in the jarring, off-kilter intro.
Bands can spend their entire budget on a cover that looks amazing. They can fool you with logos, cool outfits and (in this case) literally smoke screens. But if the music inside the jacket doesn’t back it up then the band has nothing. Occult Burial luckily has both. They are the rare band that, while dripping with talent and ideas, may not actually benefit from more clean production. They remain raw, occult and completely ripping.