Thursday, 26 April 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Of Feather And Bone, "Bestial Hymns of Perversion"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: March 23, 2018
Label: Profound Lore Records

It’s a stellar record, one that cuts deep and infects your blood supply.  I suggest you subject yourself to this trauma and damn the consequences.

“Bestial Hymns of Perversion” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Repulsive Obscurity
2. Resounding from the Depths
3. Lust for Torment
4. Mockery of the Ascension
5. Hymn of Perversion
6. Pious Abnormality
7. Throne of the Serpent

The Review:
There are a few tried and true methods when it comes to hair-raising metal album intros.  Some really solid menacing spoken word, particularly religious insanity culled from a crackling radio transmission.  The patented horror movie sample of practically any Mortician song.  So when I heard demonic chanting and what can only be described as the buzz of carrion flies, I knew I was in for some relentlessly grim death metal.  I did not expect, however, that with “Bestial Hymns of Perversion”, I’d be wading into a grim, necrotic nightmare that may also be one of the best releases of the year.  With their second full-length, Of Feather and Bone have completely reinvented themselves as one of the most devastating death acts operating today.
Aforementioned opener “Repulsive Obscurity”, after the descent into sonic madness of the intro, centers on drummer PW’s double-kick assault.  This is tribal warfare music, not tech wizardry – every hit sounds like it’s rattling against bloodied skins, reverberating through a chasm of evil.  The thick, fuzzy tone of DG’s guitar is pure filth, without ever losing the discernable, disturbing riffing.  AS’s bass is much more subdued but essential, a clean counter to the buzzing fury of the six-string assault.  Meanwhile, AS and DG counter guttural death growls with agonized, frayed higher register shrieks.  The combination is particularly unnerving.  Which isn’t to suggest its pure cacophony – tracks like “Resounding from the Depths” have an oldschool punky rhythm break that bely the trio’s earlier hardcore roots.
“Lust for Torment” may be the standout track for me on a record without a moment of filler.  The breakdown, punctuated by cracking snare work, frenetic fills, and pinch harmonics that will make you scream “fuck!” while you’re sitting all alone in traffic, is one of the most enervating musical moments of my year.  Plus the mid-song crescendo is the type of chugging riffing that mosh pits were made for.  The tortured high end vocals of “Mockery of the Ascension” are almost too distressing after such brutality, but Of Feather and Bone is not here for your weak bullshit.  Instead the tribal rhythms coalesce again, around a blissfully simple guitar line.  The minimal, tremolo lead work is as effective as any sweep picking, and far more memorable.

“Hymn of Perversion” is a testament to how aware Of Feather and Bone is of the power of space – sometimes they allow room to breathe, only to collapse back in with so much intensity that you may suffocate.  And throughout all this chaos, the production is never muddied, never too busy, always unflinching in capturing the relentless assaults on display.  When PW blisters his snare with furious blast beats on “Pious Abnormality”, not one hit is lost – no mean feat when the distortion is so primal.  “Throne of the Serpent” closes as the album began – with sheer, unmitigated power.  DG and AS weave a sinewy, descending guitar riff that is beyond sinister – it’s downright malevolent.  With tradeoffs between chugging rhythms and high-end tremolo, slowed down tribal drums and breakneck blast beats, the closer builds to a nauseating expulsion of raw energy, before dissipating in another cloud of buzzing flies.

It’s hard to express just how grim and powerful the whole experience of “Bestial Hymns of Perversion” is.  It stuck to me like a layer of grime you really need to scour yourself to get off.  Even when I felt unburdened from the filthy tones and punishing rhythms, I had to go back, re-traumatize myself, and contemplate just what was so unsettling and compelling about the whole thing.  For one, it’s a major departure from their frenzied, punky debut, “Embrace the Wretched Flesh”.  There’s far more skill, more despair, more wrathful intensity.  But there’s something ineffable about the primal necromancy these guys dredge up for “Bestial Hymns…”.  It’s a stellar record, one that cuts deep and infects your blood supply.  I’m likely to keep returning all year, like the scene of an atrocity I can’t erase from my memory.  I suggest you subject yourself to this trauma and damn the consequences.

“Bestial Hymns of Perversion” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp