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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.