|Review: Horrendous - The Chills|
Label: Dark Descent Records
Year released: 2012
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: April 11, 2012
Reviewed by: Memnarch
Rated 4.38/5 (87.62%) (21 Votes)
There's been a plethora of bands that have emerged from nothingness in the last few years carrying the torch for old school death metal, acts such as Cruciamentum, Morbus Chron, Corpsessed and Venenum among many others, I could go on forever. The truth is, if you're in any way a fan of Entombed, Pestilence, Autopsy and the likes these are certainly prosperous times. US act Horrendous are one of the latest to emerge from this crowd of old school idolatry and if not told otherwise I'd have sworn blind they were Swedish – the resemblance is that uncanny. Ok so their name is a bit naff, but then again, names such as ‘Master' and ‘Grave' aren't exactly stand-out are they?
The music itself though is anything but horrendous, in fact it couldn't be further from that if it tried; simply put, if you're sick to the back teeth of sterile blast-fests and soulless wankery then The Chills is the perfect antidote. Horrendous takes your Hate Eternals and Blood Red Thrones and shits on them from a very great height indeed. The way in which the first wave of death metal bands, especially those of Sweden managed to capture such horrific atmospheres with their releases has always fascinated me, and what attracted me to death metal in the first place. Horrendous are no different in this respect as it's the sheer unique and insanely depraved atmosphere which they manage to concoct that snagged me in the first place and set them out as something different from everyone else.
The vocals certainly do their bit to heighten the atmosphere, a colossal Van Drunen-esque guttural that sounds as if it's being roared up deep through the cracks in the earth. While the vocals recall Asphyx and Pestilence, the guitar playing has that unmistakable Swedish tone to it, that vague heavy metal slant that spearheaded the riffing styles of Dismember, Dissection and Edge of Sanity among others. It's thoroughly crushing and has a nice sharp crunch to it, and in their more up-tempo passages they have a great penchant for retaining an underlying catchiness in the midst of all the repulsive savagery. Then we have the soloing. Not for a long time have I heard solos as good on a death metal album, nor as frequent. All throughout the album there's wild unhinged guitar leads rearing up everywhere again recalling classic Dismember among others. The guitar work in general, lead and rhythm on this album is just so well performed; simply put it's just fucking awesome.
Horrendous have that special ability to be brutal and technical at the same time without even trying, and that's why I will always prefer bands like this to those such as Origin, Dying Fetus et-al. Song-wise they're all amazing, though choice cuts would be the vicious "The Womb" with its feral lead work, "The Sombre (Desolate Winds)" which is essentially the essence of pure fucking death metal, shrouded in a haze of psychotic madness and with on overall more downcast tone than the rest of the album. They even manage to make enough room to fit the nine minute "The Eye of Madness", an abyssal mesh of sweeping riffs and leads and insane vocals that simply put don't sound of this earth. Even the bass work is astounding, surprisingly prolific, swaggering about in the background holding everything together like filthy black glue.
It would be an injustice to lump them in with every other new death metal band though, because The Chills is just light-years better than much else the genre has to offer at the minute. It sounds as if it was recorded in some distant subterranean cavern surrounded by an aura of death, decay and madness, otherworldly almost. I suppose in a way the album cover is the perfect embodiment to the sound these guys were aiming for. I wish I could say I was exaggerating when I say I'd put this up there with Like an Ever Flowing Stream, Left Hand Path, Into the Grave and the likes but I'm not. It is that good, and my definite album of the year so far and one the best examples of death metal I've heard in a long time. As for this ‘new wave of old school death', the bar has been set.
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