Thursday, 18 September 2014

Horrendous - Ecdysis (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/10/2014
Label: Dark Descent Records

‘Ecdysis’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. The Stranger  (07:12)
2. Weeping Relic (03:58)
3. Heaven’s Deceit (03:10)
4. Resonator (03:38)
5. The Vermillion (02:55)
6. Nepenthe (04:31)
7. Monarch (03:57)
8. When The Walls Fell (02:25)
9. Pavor Nocturnus (06:22)  
10. Titan (04:45)

Bio:

East Coast Death Metal trio HORRENDOUS are set to return with their highly-anticipated sophomore release, Ecdysis, on October 14. Picking up where the band's critically acclaimed 2012 debut, The Chills, left off,Ecdysis sees HORRENDOUS emerge as one of the most intense, brutal, and most importantly, genuine contributors to today's traditional death metal revival.

Ecdysis is set for an October 14 worldwide release on CD, vinyl and digital formats via Dark Descent Records. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Subterranean Watchtower Studios (www.facebook.com/SubterraneanWatchtower). Cover art for the album was done by Brian Smith. 

The Band:

Jamie Knox | Drums
Damian Herring | Vocals, guitars
Matt Knox | Vocals, guitars

Review:

Horrendous have produced one of the great death metal albums of 2014 and when all is said and done, ‘Ecdysis’ should be remembered as one of the great death metal albums of the decade. That isn’t hyperbole and it isn’t baseless hype on my part. It’s just the truth. Perhaps I’m reading too much into things because I’m so enamored with the album as a whole, but everything about ‘Ecdysis’ feels like Horrendous set out to create an all-time classic from its earliest stages. Even the artwork is improbably good. There’s a confidence level and a self-assuredness exhibited throughout the whole album that is so rare in this day and age.

The album starts off in incredible fashion with “The Stranger”, which is on par with the best death metal songs of all time. I’ve probably listened to it at least 30 times in the short time I’ve been listening to the album and it still stuns me every time I’ve listened to it. The immense melodies, the shimmering lead guitar work, the brilliant rhythmic work from both the drummer and bassist. Everything fits into place in a truly magical way. From the borderline-doom opening section, with melody oozing from each labored riff and chug to the ingenious main riff that utilizes rhythms usually reserved for Van Halen albums. Believe me, I get why that might sound terrible on paper, but it fucking works. There are sorrowful chords that flirt with black metal like Dark Tranquility used to in the early 90s. The guitar solo work throughout this song and the album as a whole is absolutely gorgeous. I’m prattling on because I feel like I can’t move on until I run out of glowing words of praise; that’s how much I love this song. It’s only for your benefit that I move on to the rest of the album.

Elsewhere, the album is engorged with memorable riffs from start to finish. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say that mid-period Death, Edge of Sanity and ‘Heartwork’-era Carcass strike me as being primary influences, but they’re definitely not just some hodgepodge of repurposed old ideas. “Resonator”, as an example, does an excellent job of alternating between a thrashing death metal attack out of Stockholm in 1990 and a tumbling mid-paced section that sounds even older. “The Vermillion” brings back something I absolutely loved: the seemingly random but beautiful acoustic guitar song in the middle of a death or black metal album. It was a staple of Swedish bands in the 90s, from Dissection to Lord Belial to In Flames, and dozens of others, and “The Vermillion” is a nice addition to tradition that hasn’t been observed all that much in the last ten to fifteen years.

The only song that really feels out of place is “When the Walls Fell”, a two and a half minute detour, in which Horrendous opts to jam a variety of more traditional heavy metal riffs. As a self-contained instrumental track, it’s just fine, but it seems like an unnecessary song that doesn’t really lead to anything. Once we’re back on track, “Titan” closes the album out in an excellent fashion, highlighted by some excellent lead guitar choices, and a renewed focus on melody and a fittingly weary-yet-victorious emotional tone to the whole of the song. Paying attention to details like writing a song that actually feels like it gives the album closure is just one of the reasons that Horrendous is at the top of the death metal heap in 2014. Now someone book them on a tour with Morbus Chron so I can die a happy man.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

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