I slept, and I dreamed.
I dreamed of ripping, gain to 11 HM2 riffs with an edge so brittle they would shatter. I dreamed of cavernous reverb, and of blistering tempos jackknifed into mid-paced stomps that locked into a pocket so deep I could feel the void. I dreamed of vocals both guttural and vicious, speaking to me in the tongues of ancient religions, intoning rites of passage into another world, another time.
I woke, and realized it was February and I had slept on killer old school death metal releases from Frozen Soul, Nervosa, and Apshyx. Rising from my decrepit tomb of a bed I exhaled a chilled breath and decided to rectify the situation.
The more I look at the cover for Crypt of Ice, the debut from Texas’s Frozen Soul, the more I’m convinced it says more about the music that any words I can write. This is a mammoth slab of neck-snapping, vintage death metal that spawns from the same abyss as the almighty Bolt Thrower, and largely succeeds in inducing head trauma from thrashing with riff after riff after riff. The opening title track wears its influences on its sleeves, but it’s the second song “Arctic Stranglehold” where things really begin to whip into a frenzy.
Most of the tracks follow a similar trajectory, with some ambient intros thrown in here and there to break apart the steady attack of brutality. Don’t look for a lot of variation in Crypt of Ice; that’s not the intent here. Frozen Soul are looking to beat your soul into submission with a crushing weight of raging guitars and a rhythm section found below the polar caps. So limber up and revel in the onslaught of tracks like “Merciless” and “Beat to Death” to put a smile on your face and a crack in your neck with every thud of the kick.
The fourth full length from the Brazilian death/thrash dealers, Perpetual Chaos feels like there was a fresh injection of inspiration since 2018’s Downfall of Mankind. Founder/guitarist Prika Amaral comes roaring out of the gate with a fresh international lineup, and the power of opening track “Venomous” immediately signals that Amaral’s search for new blood was a stellar success. The riffs are razor sharp and don’t feel beholden to the past, as things get downright nasty on the bridge of “People of the Abyss” and awaken native rhythms, à la Sepultura on the title track.
Repeated listens bear strange and wonderful great things, as there are a multiple small details and moments that help to bring Perpetual Chaos a whiff of something few bands are doing nowadays: keep the past alive without simply retreading it. The thrash elements ensure there are plenty of hooks to sink your teeth into, while the urgency of the attack feel right at home with the most modern of death metal. For a band together less than a year, this sounds like a group of veterans showing off what it means to have metal telepathy. More like this, please.
What can you say about Asphyx that they haven’t already said time and time again with each release? Don’t look for anything out of the ordinary on their 10th full length Necroceros. Instead look for the consistency of a band that is so well attuned to the death/doom genre they helped popularize that you’re going to fall headfirst into the tumult of songs like “The Sole Curse is Death” and “Molten Black Earth” and never once consider coming up for air. Speaking of “Molten Black Earth” if you can’t keep your eyes focused after rolling to that wonderful Bolt Thrower inspired groove (anything that even remotely feels like “The Killchain” I will be in the bag for) you’re in good company – Asphyx excels at writing riffs that have enormous barbed hooks that swing your entire body in twisted contortions.
There’s little in the way of breathing space the further you go into Necroceros. Every song stands out in some way: from the martial stance of “Knights Templar Stand” to the frenzied laugh that opens the speeding death of “Botox Implosion” highlights abound. “Yield or Die” satisfies the anthemic need to bang your head and leave bloodstains everywhere. So yeah, nothing new under the sun here, but what is here is damn good, and who wants to be in the sun anyway? Let’s stick to the dark and cold and rage to some of the weightiest riffs to be found in the recesses of the Earth.
Until next time, keep it heavy…keep it safe.