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Horrendous return three years after the release of a very promising demo. I was really hopeful about their musical development and I have to say that this first full-length work really shows strides of progress in all terms: songwriting, lyrics and vocals. For those unfamiliar with the name, Horrendous play death metal the old school way, but despite the fact that they come from the USA, the Swedish death metal influences in their music are obvious as well.
The guitar work is the best I’ve heard in a really long time. Compositions are great and the riff sequence is ideal. There is a rare balance between the two guitars that flow so naturally from straightforward thrashy riffs to skull-crushing groovy ones, and when the pace suddenly changes, those dark and grandiose melodies really drain my energy and make me feel the grasp of the cold hand of death. I even found the solos to be very interesting even whilst I was never a big fan of them. Of course, this top-notch result wouldn’t even exist without the valuable contribution of the drums and their diverse playing, though I have to admit that I was mostly impressed by the use of the bass drum.
Production is extra fine and, to be honest, this was expected and foreshadowed already from the production of their demo release that stood at the same standards. Sound is massive and solidified by the really dynamic presence of a loud and clear bass tone. As for the lyrics, they refer to relatively common themes as death and anti-Christianity, but at the same time they are very descriptive. As a result, they managed to create images in my head and sink me even deeper into the decay and the agony of this release.
From all the things said above it can be easily understood that “The Chills” has a really special atmosphere, enhanced even more by its mysterious and monstrous cover.
Horrendous manage to combine all the great elements of the monumental old school death metal sound and create something absolutely terrific. In times when many bands are only copying the glorious past, these guys manage to revive it. They are the living proof that as long as authenticity and inspiration prevails, there is still hope. Go grab this album as fast as you can. It will certainly give you the chills.
Originally written for: The Lair of Storfeth
Old school refers to the way things were made in a passing time or the ways laid upon by the founding fathers of a specific art or craft. When concerning death metal old school is about how bands from the late eighties and early nineties transformed the world with a new extreme musical genre. These selected few procured new ways of pushing metal further and ended up creating very specific geographical and stylistic scenes. Twenty years passed and suddenly new bands have bases to work upon while trying to create something new. Bands like Horrendous who come by and splatter the entire pallet in your face with hybridizations of old school styles glued and pieced together like a meat puppet. A buzz saw guitar here, thrashing beats there, a mix of Floridian riffs with a scent of rotten European death/doom, and an olden sound stage to assemble everything together. This is the essence of the new school, and most importantly that of the band’s debut album, The Chills.
The filthy marionette begins moving at the sound of an eerie lead guitar that entrances you for a while until the drums demand some movement from your weary body. Suddenly the strings are tightly pulled and the buzzing sound of the lead guitar starts doing its work on your flesh. Filthy raspy tones from a sore throat complete this hellish picture and you witness the full might of the raging opener, “The Womb”, with its dragging of bones towards the end. It’s only but a second of respite before the following, “Ripped To Shreds”, enters the scene and does exactly so with its furious up-tempo rhythm. The chorus is intense as is the headbanging fury you’re submitted to during the more hefty moments. These two tracks embody perfectly what this album is about and utterly show all the collected elements bind together. They don’t show much of the slower and doomier pace sometimes employed by the band, as that is saved for numbers like “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” or “Fatal Dreams”. The first is mainly a fast number with a snail paced mid-section that brings about some of the more melodic leanings of the band, while the later does its best to fool you with its raging beginning. It twists itself and convolutes but finally gives in to the slow death halfway through, showcasing the band’s instinct for tapping a doomy vein with style. Strangely melodious it rocks your cradle gently and you give in to the upcoming demise.
This album continuously exercises the stylistic concatenation brewed by the band along with their appetence for writing filthy hooks and ensnaring riffs. Varying and circling around their influences they travel along the tight and sharpened canyon formed by the passage of whirling winds. Once again the flesh is tormented by cries of anger and despair disguised as friendly, as “Fleshrot” suddenly mutates into a distressing number that again intends on dislocating your neck from the rest of the body. The punishing rhythmic section and crude guitars never avert from ripping a new hole in your armour as you try to move along, be it by the apparently slow grinding of “The Ritual” with its vicious main riff that brings about the best of the left hand path, or the hulking closer “The Eye Of Madness” which stands atop from an impressive nine minutes. As expected it is the doomiest and slowest song found on this album, a slow burner that occasionally gains momentum and escalates into infuriated segments of punishing brutality. That cool bass lead which can be heard during the initial section brings back memories of Carnage’s only album, but the song does much more than just walking on Swedish grounds. It travels through darkened forests and you can’t avert the agonizing screams from tearing away your sanity. A long path awaits you and a sense of inescapable terminus begins to approach as the lack of inertia suddenly strikes the song down into its sludgy pace that drags on until the end, hinting at the possibility of a slight return but only for once indulging in it. One last feeble attempt of escape, but as it slowly fades away so do you along with it.
It can be argued that Horrendous have no original ideas since they reap and sow all the teachings from pre-existing sonorities, although one can’t properly say that the way they’re mingled and arranged is by any means unoriginal. The new old school seems to be doing its work by rehashing past glories while injecting different conducting streams that make disparate scenes carpool. Does the band accomplish that without sounding overly zealous in the honouring of their influences? Yes, they do. The band manages to bring some of the most interesting elements of different scenes and piece them all together while still sounding cohesive and fresh. They’re not breaking any new ground but it’s hard to become impervious to the massive old school statement brought forth by this album. Or should I say, new old school? Either way it’s a very interesting album that’s bound to please fans of the old and new, as it has a bit of everything that’s good about death metal within it.
I love the “Sunlight Sound” as much as the next guy, but it’s been abused of late, invoked in hybrid procedures and put to nefarious use. In the end it’s a sonic tool; its glorious overdistorted virtues will only shine in the light of righteous riffs and songwriting. Horrendous have got those in spades. The band have dug up the roots of death metal and fertilized them with fresh carnage, raging with a charismatic flair and and an intuition for devious dynamics. The Chills, indeed.
The Chills is an expertly composed, rotting ball of death. The album is baked in the same mold as early Dismember and Asphyx, but it's spiced with a sinister melodicism that also speaks of The Somberlain. Horrendous grasp the importance of groove to those epitomes of Swedish death; The Chills swings and swaggers with ball-crushing authority. These tunes are also relentlessly dynamic; you won't experience a dull moment in their clutches.
Red hot, detuned heavings intermingle with exquisite, phantasmal leads. The dueling guitars make compelling contrapuntal arguments, spewing a constant stream of superior riffage. The distortion is fucking succulent, abrading the brain with its grizzled edge. The Chills is tied together by fantastic drumming and gorgeously audible bass; ridiculous musicianship abounds.
The vocals are incredibly entertaining, channeling the psychotic spirit of Martin van Drunen. Tales of butchery, apocalypse, unholy ritual and requisite gore are all conveyed with tortured glee. I dare you not to scream along to “Ripped to Shreds.”
Horrendous don't sound like they've set out on a mission of atavistic mockery; they sound like they were born to do this, to fling this unerring filth. The Chills is a preposterously flawless debut album. The old school just got schooled. Bang your head if you agree.
Originally published here: http://www.metalinjection.net/reviews/cd-review-horrendous-the-chills
I've talked about old-school death metal at least two dozen times on my blog, but even after two-plus years of its resurgence, I'm still interested in the best the style has to offer. Horrendous has birthed debut The Chills. It's the best one since Disma hit us last year.
I've done so many reviews of this genre the formula should be familiar by now. If you're a regular reader or a fan of the style yourself, you should be aware of the various permutations of OSDM. True to their spread-out geography (they hail from all over the east coast), Horrendous have created a blood-slick crossover between the best Floridian death and the best Swedish death, both circa 1991. It's as if they camped out somewhere in the mid-Atlantic on a ship full of zombies for the last two decades, surviving on canned beans and live rats.
The guitar tone is not quite Swedish buzzsaw, but it's partly in that direction. The vocals are a split between Petrov and Schuldiner. The riffs are all ugly blends of Human and Left Hand Path, and they even throw in a synth interlude that could have been on the latter album. Where they diverge from those formulas--besides combining them--is by throwing plenty of ugly leads and solos over the top, embellishing and adding interest. Tempos and riffs are all over the place, but most of it's fast.
I shouldn't really have to go to great lengths trying to describe it. You know the influences, and you have a pretty good idea how this is going to sound. The only surprising thing is that these guys are younger than I am, and there's no metalcore here. In terms of songwriting quality, it's fantastically catchy, and the production is in exactly the putrid, sickeningly sweet spot that OSDM should be. Get this album.
The Verdict: Crank it up, barricade the door, load your shotgun, and get loaded.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
And another very impressive old styled death metal album, which have been released in the past few months and gave the band a much deserved recognition and status of one of the most interesting and promising new acts at the moment. Here is Horrendous. The band made their way through the armies of undead really quickly, releasing just one demo (“Sweet Blasphemies” in 2009) before they got the first album ready and released by Dark Descent in 2012. Dressed in one of the best artworks I’ve seen in the past few months (surely it matches the superb artworks from Morbus Chron and Disma albums), “The Chills” offers us nine songs, closing in 43 minutes, of pure death metal feast. I haven’t heard the demo at all, but the stopgap of three years between it and the debut full length album must have been spent very effectively, as the material from “The Chills” presents us a well developed beast, which left the beginner’s cocoon for good and is now a mature and deadly form of life; one with which you need to confront yourself.
I must say that the opening theme of “The Womb”, which is the first song, got me confused a bit, as this melody on it would really fit the Swedish melodic black metal bands like Dissection and Watain, but that feeling disappears right with the second riff, which is more thrash metal oriented. It turns out that these nine songs offer many really interesting and sometimes unexpected parts, which include also a lot of melodic leads and changes of the atmosphere. Actually the whole “The Chills” brings a wide range of influences, which result in one of the most varied and thus also interesting albums I’ve heard recently. This variety became a strong point of Horrendous’ music, but it would never bring good results if the band wasn’t able to compose good and solid songs. Luckily those three Americans have done an excellent job and their songwriting and musicianship are one of the best I’ve heard around the new wave of young death metal bands. When listening to such tracks as “Ripped to Shreds” or “Fatal Dreams” they do not leave any question marks, it is just as it should be and in many ways the album left me speechless – that great it is.
When saying that there is a wide range of bands, which I think Horrendous was influenced by, I wasn’t trying to be just polite. No, really there are many legendary acts, which I feel have made their mark on Horrendous music. Pestilence is I think the most obvious one. When listening to the guitar leads, some crazy, thrashing and sometimes even bit spacey, psychedelic riffs and even the vocals of Damian Herring (who sounds very much like Patrick Mamelli) – all that makes me think of “Consuming Impulse” and “Testimony of the Ancients”. Then you can clearly find traces of bands like Death or Atheist in many parts, while such “The Ritual” is like a more melodic Autopsy, incorporating a doomier introduction and some sick, disgustingly vomiting vocals, while my favourite song from the whole album – a majestic epic “The Eye of Madness” – sounds like a good old Asphyx, in their best possible style. On top of that I think I can say that “The Chills” may be taking influences also from the good old fashioned heavy and thrash metal – clearly the beginning of “Fatal Dreams” makes me think of “Painkiller” too much hehe!
More so, these three guys turned out to be excellent instrumentalists, especially the guitarists have recorded here some amazing tunes. When listening to “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” for instance I got amazed by the leading play of the guitar, with some almost melancholic, sorrowful and emotional riffs, which sound great, when are played next to angry and bestial death metal. Horrendous also managed to balance these more melodic tunes with straight forward, aggressive playing and “Fleshrot” is the best evidence for it. This is a fierce, relentless attack, which hits you right away when “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” ends. “The Eye of Madness” provides even deeper atmospheric playing, with very doomy riffing and lots of great sounding melodies (actually the one, which opens the song, sounds a lot like Swedish death metal or Amorphis on their first album! – KILLER!!!), while the closing part of it sounds very much like Asphyx, providing a wonderful mournful finish to the whole album. But really, “The Chills” as a whole has a horrendously (hehe) possessing charm and I can hardly resist this album at all. Oh, just listen to Horrendous and see yourself how great are these songs, so well composed and performed and more so, they’re damn memorable. This isn’t simple and unimaginative death metal, but well thought through piece of massacring metal. And despite the fact that I wrote that Horrendous pays a tribute to many old bands, the way they do it on “The Chills” make me think that Horrendous is – I have no hesitation, when writing this – truly original band and one of a kind, which is much welcome and expected, especially in times, when sometimes it gets a bit monotonous to hear dozens of same sounding death metal bands. And the cherry on the top is the powerful, amazingly energetic and clean, crispy but aggressive production…
Yeah, awesome. “The Chills” ticks all the boxes, when describing the perfect death metal album. Fast, brutal parts? Check. Groovy, more doomy parts? Check. Dark atmosphere, sick atmosphere, great leads, some melodies? All check! Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! Definitely this is one of the best death metal albums of past years.
The horrific album art was simply the only reason why I got this album at first but little did I know that Horrendous' album, ''The Chills'' offered so much more. Horrendous plays beautiful, dirty and horrific old school death metal and nothing more. This album is just brilliant in all ways possible, a muffled atmosphere pulling the riffs back so the voracious appetite of the listener is never fully pleased, the brain-penatrating madness of constant assaults of buzzy, groovy Swedeath guitars and an apocalyptical aura of filth and crudely undeveloped and primival, savage onslaghts of pure, intense old school spectacularity. If you like what you've heard by know, then no doubt, you will adore this album within just seconds.
The whole album is covered with heaps of dark and misty nebula as if some sort of magnet rendering the listener hostile to the music. The nostalgia of old-school death is inevitable and it is exremely vivid, too. The riffing is complex and fluctuates between incursions of more technical riffage and rather straightforward, thrash-tinged attacks with plenty of your typical descending tremolo chugs and aggressive riifage. The riffs are sometimes concise and effective yet they always have an appealing technicalty to them as they are not too simplistic. There is plenty of energy which sometimes renders that riff-blocking aura useless and lets the riffs charge with ferocity and rage. The song ''Fleshrot'' is a perfect example to this as it is short and violently vehement. One thing that may separate this album from other old-school albums is the amount of doomy passages, which isn't frequent in this album. Only at seldom, Horrendous decide to slow their tempo down for longer moments, but since sections like this aren't very popular in the album, it's not something you should worry about.
''The Ritual'' which actually starts off with a doomy intro for about two minutesi immedeatly settles on a more aggressive approach and starts to mangle bodies and split skulls like a machine. Another great thing about the album is that it tends to have alot variation. While some songs can be unbarably brutal and demolishing some other may retain energy and increase the level of dynamics while still being able to sound powerful. Some sections obviously carry a alot more atmosphere than others, so it makes the album sound rather epic and bursting with feeling at melody. The album manifests many styles and although it follows slightly different directions, the riffs are mainly based on the same pattern, executed flawlessly and never repetetive. The vocals are outstanding and sound just as old school as the rest of the band. They would be crossover of Chuck Shuldiner and Van Drunnen yet at times, they might turn slightly more raspy and cracked. The vocalists' violent and croaky screams shadow over slower parts of the album to emphasize the blood-curdling feeling of the album. Just as many new death metal albums, solos on this album are very rare, but with such a strong and consistent rythm department, it doesen't even matter.
From the crushing intro of ''The Womb'' to the miracolously melodramatic ending of ''The Eye Of Madness'', ''The Chills'' is a wonderfully crafted record that opiates the old school sound very well. Out of many, this album stands out to the most crushing, melody-laden and relentlessly variated one. Channeling between Incantation and early Death in many ways, Horrendous' debut album have managed to do and exceedingly well-done album to start off the year, thus bringing us hope that 2012 will have many more fine releases.
There’s been a plethora of bands who’ve 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 anyway 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 swore 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 that 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.
Devoid of any original concepts or ideas, The Chills is yet another milestone in forgettable(and super hip) throwback death metal that is all the rage right now. Hailing from all across the US East Coast, Horrendous could not have picked a better time in Death Metal than right now... especially since they can't go back in time and release this in 1989, where it firmly belongs. Highly dated and inconsistently performed, The Chills feels old and tired right out of the gate, and although it picks up steam near the end, the album never escapes the miasma of "been there, done that, moved on."
Slow, ponderous Thrash beats lead this exhausted march through death metal's gloomy history. Horrendous drummer Jamie Knox deserves a medal for putting up with this affront to his ability as a musician. Or perhaps he lacks ability? Hard to say, but the soul crushing boredom he must have endured is worthy of legend. How many thrash beats can you fit into a single album, and more importantly how do you convince a drummer to play almost nothing but them for an entire album? The Chills is ingloriously mid-paced for much of it's running time, and never reaches that sweet spot of tempo and aggression that makes for the best death metal. It just kind of plods from one riff to the next, held together with the bare minimum of connective tissue like so many horribly shredded arms caught in so many grinding gears. It doesn't help that most of the vocal delivery is firmly in the John Tardy school of mentally disabled yelping and grunting. Occasionally the band make use of a perfectly competent guttural growl that sounds powerful and deep, but never long enough.
This of course leaves the guitar and bass work, and in total fairness to The Chills, it is obvious from the beginning that this album was built as a guitar driven one. And at times the guitar work on The Chills is pretty impressive, particularly the solo work. At times channeling the early work of Chuck Schuldiner, the creepy, soaring guitar solos and leads on tracks like "The Somber(Desolate Winds)" and "Fatal Dreams" evoke the proper kind of nostalgia: namely, reflecting on that which was worth reflecting on. I have no problem admitting that for me, Death Metal did not exist until New York and Finland started making it. The early First Wave death metal bands from Florida and SwedDeath bands have never played a style of death metal that I prescribe to: too thrash-y, too slow and too devoid of atmosphere. The Chills is firmly planted in this school of death metal... for the first half anyway.
The Chills takes a surprising turn when "The Ritual" kicks in. The Entombed and Obituary influence gives way to the crushing rhythms of Asphyx and Rippikoulu. All the postured darkness becomes actual evil, and the lessened presence of thrash becomes a God-send. Doom infused and full of Hell, "The Ritual" is a massive highlight, and kicks off a much stronger second half of The Chills. It's as if the band realized the first half of the album was little more than toothless genre worship, and unleashed all of their inner hatred into a second half designed to blot out the first tracks as though they never actually existed. Too bad they did.
The Chills is not without charm, particularly with the albums strong second half picking up much of the slack, but it still feels tired and uninspired. A notch above pointless genre rehash like Morbus Chron and Misasmal, but well below the likes of Morbid Flesh or Execration, Horrendous have managed to keep themselves from drowning in a sea of imitators with The Chills. But the sea is rising, and those who cannot swim shall be swallowed up in the deluge. The Chills would not be my choice of flotation device.
originally posted at http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/
USA's Horrendous joins the ranks of the many other bands that have formed in recent years, playing music in the veins of old school death metal. Their 2009 demo, Sweet Blasphemies was received highly despite containing 5 tracks that run for only 18 minutes. The Chills is the band's debut full length album, released under Dark Descent Records, and this certainly bodes well with the high quality releases that the label has been releasing constantly over the past years.
The foundations of this record is immediately noticeable as old school death metal, with inspiration that the band has drawn from numerous different bands that have pioneered or wielded influence over the entire genre. The guitar tone and the huge lead and solo guitar tone right from the start all display the production quality of the album, and brings out the old school essence clearly, with the lead guitars especially reminding listeners of 80s heavy metal. The vocals on the album sound almost like a cross between Hail of Bullet's Martin Van Drunen throaty howl and Death's Chuck Schuldiner growls on their earlier material, and this helps in making the lyrics to songs more decipherable and understandable, and the layering of the vocals on tracks like Altars provides a fuller sound on the album. Jamie's drumming style alternates between simpler, punkish d-beats to straight on death metal style blasting, and at times reminds listeners of old school Swedish death metal, further displaying the range of influences present in their playing style.
Throughout the record, the band displays a nice mix of aggression and melody, and this is evident from opening track The Womb, with a melodic lead guitar line that suddenly breaks into an aggressive section. Furthermore, the band often layers a lead guitar line on top of the chaos, providing the melody and some sense of order among the seeming disorder that lies beneath. The solos that are present throughout the album are often melodic, and certainly caters to fans of more melodic metal. Also, on top of the aggressive moments on the album, the band also includes some variation in their songwriting, with slower, but heavier moments littered throughout, such as on the last few moments of Ripped to Shreds.
Songs like Altars are evidence of the band's songwriting skills, with the ability to blend ferocity with catchiness, further reinforced by more emotional tracks like The Somber (Desolate Winds). The links between the songs and their titles are also evident, with songs like The Ritual seeing the band bringing in a more ritualistic and somewhat haunting atmosphere, complete with sound samples of a sinister laugh at the background towards the end of the song. The interlude Sleep Sickness even sounds like it could easily come off an Electric Wizard or Acid Witch album, with the doom metal feel and old-school sound of the keyboards. The album closes with the epic, 9 minute long The Eye of Madness, with a balance of what the band has presented on the first 8 tracks, making this track a suitable close to the album, and one of the best tracks displaying Horrendous' style. Old school death metal has been played to death (pun unintended), but Horrendous has managed to bring in some fresh sound with The Chills, making this album one hell of an enjoyable album to headbang to any time at all.
Let's face it, people: this whole old school thing, whether it's called 'revitalist,' 'retro,' or whatever term that's being forced into the metal glossary as I type, isn't going away. Some have had hard time coping with this fact, but I must ask, why? After all, this nostalgia phenomenon has produced some of the better records of the last few years (including but not limited to Antichrist's Forbidden World, Ghost's Opus Eponymous, and Enforcer's Diamonds) and introduced younger metalheads to the classic bands that inspired them. Until now, I haven't felt that any death metal album of this nature has succeeded in quite the way those aforementioned releases have, not favoring the Incantation worship of bands like Disma. That, however, has changed with Horrendous and their debut.
The Chills instead opts for a sound forged from the glory of early Death and the melancholy vibes of early Swedish death metal. The guitar tone is thick and vibrant in the rhythms but positively dreary in the leads (reminding me of the balance Septic Flesh struck on their mid-90s releases). Songs wind their way between blistering, thrash-influenced passages and doom-laden, cavernous corridors (just see the nine minute "The Eye of Madness"). The vocals are just about as pure as the genre can offer, crushingly growling with zero mercy--or surprise from the listener. The production values couldn't possibly be any better, staying true to the original sound of albums like Leprosy and Severed Survival while utilizing the clarity that modern technology offers. The songwriting isn't as strictly structured as you might find in Schuldiner's old troupe, though, often sprawling beyond the constraints of a normal track and voyaging beyond their simplistic strategy.
The individual tracks are a tad less memorable by nature, but I think the great flow of the release more than makes up for it. It's altogether consistent, but a few notable highlights certainly reveal themselves as one voyages through its vile contents. For one, that intro to "The Womb" certainly won't fade from my memory anytime soon, slowly churning in desolation before exploding into a riff you might hear on Scream Bloody Gore. "The Somber (Desolate Winds)" turns that method on its head, systematically rabbit-punching the listener in the face with its initially punishing rhythm before slowing to an emotion crawl. Personally, I always perk up in the middle of "The Ritual" when song breaks out into a full on assault about midway through. In between those tracks lie more concise numbers like "Ripped to Shreds" and "Altars," which function well as brief asskickers alongside the more developed songs.
Horrendous loads the entire songlist up with winners, clocking in at forty-three minutes of near perfect death metal no fan of the genre should miss. I'm almost surprised it's from the US and not Sweden, a country accustomed to making tried and true efforts of this bloodstained breed. As it stands, though, The Chills is a monumental testament to the relevance of the revitalist movement and an eyebrow-raising debut in a world where so few have existed as of late. It's the kind of album I rarely tire of and the first great release of 2012. A safe buy for everybody who appreciates the form.
Horrendous seem to have tapped into my subconscious and then extracted exactly what I want out of an old school focused death metal album in the modern era. Loads of atmosphere, growling and riffing circa the Floridian forebears like late 80s Death or the Dutch maestros Pestilence from the same era. Voracious, wild leads and oodles of melodies being constantly strewn out into the bleak and apocryphal, rotting skyline implied on the cover art. Ghastly vocals which fall somewhere between Chris Reifert, Martin van Drunen and Chuck Schuldiner. And a raw, ripping Swedish style guitar tone but none of the generic D-beat rhythms that seem so redundant from that scene and its many international doppelgangers.
The Chills might not have the riffing and chorus capabilities that made albums like Leprosy, Cause of Death or Consuming Impulse permanent, legendary fixtures in my cranial death metal arboretum, but it certainly comes within a cunt-hair's breadth. Naturally, the band does not attempt to hide its influences, proudly wearing them on its sleeve, and like almost anything you will hear in the 21st century, there's some implied amount of derivation. But nostalgia is not an invalid catalyst for aural pleasure, and to the credit of Horrendous, they do manifest some of their own marginal nuances about the resonant atmosphere, like those aforementioned melodies that go screaming and cavorting over the tremolo charges that you're not going to hear on a Scream Bloody Gore or Slowly We Rot. They're also masters of pacing here, and thus The Chills is structured near flawlessly to provide both bursts of speeding abandon and a miasma of carnal, creepy haze, starting with the spacious, roiling guitars that inaugurate "The Womb".
Personal favorites here included "The Somber (Desolate Winds)", which might be the damned best old school death metal track I've heard from the USA in some time. The riffs have this clinical twist to them, and the vocals echo off in the distance as the guitars lurch into these sober, melancholic dual death/doom melodies. And then they sally forth to tear your ass off again! I love the slow, grooving escalation of "Fleshrot", and the blistering, grinding evil velocity of the track "Fatal Dreams". Frankly, though, I cannot point out a track on the entire album which does not at least deliver some form of festering thrill, not even the horror/ambient interlude "Sleep Sickness". Not even "The Eye of Madness", which manages its 9+ minute girth through a sheen of atmosphere and variation, rather than plod along with the same patterns repeatedly.
Horrendous is hands down amazing, even if I take into consideration that they've basically created a seance here to summon forth all of those traits I hold so dear about the late 80s death metal masterworks that have, in my approximation, yet to be surpassed. For such a young band, they are spot fucking on, they absolutely destroy most of the trendy cavern-core bands out there channeling Autopsy and Incantation, and if this record doesn't stir up the attention it clearly deserves, I might need to start making some house calls.