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Proving that aesthetic does not define quality or progress, Obliteration are one of many recent bands creating the "epic" in death metal out of the primitive. Much of their technique goes back to the grimier, more primitive days of filth-addicts like Autopsy, Winter, Repulsion, Cianide, Carnage, various hardcore punk acts and even some '70s psychedelia.
Like an exposé on the decomposition of dead bodies and dying architecture, their songcraft emphasizes linking differing layers of grimy riffs of varied shapes and backing instrumentation, creating a panoply of moods, some feral, some festering, and others in the realms of what some might simply say "out there". While recombinant, out of these cyclic clashes arises a greater or perhaps more abominable meta-theme, leading a sense of deriving some hellish knowledge out of a dusty crypt.
Instrumentation is impressive for the style. Guitars are familiar with the innumerable unsightly riff-shapes of the past whether they beat off-beat discharge style strum, thudding Celtic Frost/Black Sabbath-esque doom or frenetic grindcore buzz-fluttering and link them organically as if displaying a history of how such protoplasmic data came to enter death metal's more structured approach.
Bass is strongly prominent, underscoring the sludgy mix and moving up to harmonize or tunnel through, knowing when to lead and how to internally resonate without quite turning into an additional lead guitar. Drumming resembles a jazzier version of Chris Reifert, deft and precise and providing creative fills and accents streamlined to fit into main motions of a song. Vocals are the open throated, animalistic howl of crust/hardcore punk, backing up rhythms in short sharp barks.
One of the most ambitious and successful death metal albums of recent years.
Norway and death metal hardly ever have been a pair. Funnily, all the best Norwegian death metal records were recorded by black metal bands - Darkthrone's "Soulside Journey", Gehenna's "Adimiron Black" and "Murder", Thou Shalt Suffer - "Into the Woods of Belial"... And of course Old Funeral, which will always be my favourite death metal crew from Norway. But now the youth attacks and Obliteration is their name. Discovered by Darkthrone's members who putted the debut "Perpetual Decay" on their Tyrant Syndicate Records, Obliteration quickly got recognized. Personally I don't think their debut was anything special, but this, "Nekropsalms", the second LP, is something I can definitely be more than happy with.
First it's the smell of putrid and cadaver that surrounds this record, which caught my attention. Well, the music is damn raw, dirty, fuckin sick and rotten death metal I expected and those lads have showed their worship for Darkthrone, Autopsy and Mantas / Death in a great way. Already the first track, "Ingesting Death", with this great opening riff, show that there won't be any mercy and is a pure devastation, which quickly fastens and the chaos overwhelms everything. "Catacombs of Horror" is nothing more or less, but a great tribute to Autopsy, raw and slow, but so heavy and brutal that it's beautiful. I especially like the slow riffs and some bass parts, as well as morbid vokills, which really are awfully sick and are like vomits. Sindre Solem putted some great vocals and in "The Spawn of a Dying Kind" he really putted great effort, this is also one of the best tracks here. Starting with sinister melody it crawls slowly like the dead walking out of its tomb. These are eight minutes of slow torture, without a second of faster playing, it's just doomy death metal and surely Autopsy would be proud hearing this shit. In many parts of this album think also about Asphyx’ “Embrace the Death” LP!
Usually it happens that when there's a slow song, then the next one should be faster and "Nekropsalms Evoke the Frozen Age" is exactly like that. Of course it's not fast in the Krisiun way, but in the old school way, so it's energetic, at parts it sounds almost like punk, but again with some hints of doom here and there. And well, it would be a disgrace if I didn't mention the name Darkthrone anywhere here. Believe me or not, but many riffs from "Nekropsalms" do have many similarities to some old Darkthrone riffs from the "A Blaze In the Northern Sky" or "Goatlord" LPs, not only in this song I just mentioned. The opening part of "Ingesting Death" or the main riff and vocals from "Catacombs of Horror" (with some Celtic Frost vibe, what reminds me the "Panzerfaust" album) are nothing more or less, but purely Darkthrone influenced pieces.
The vinyl version also includes a bonus 7"EP, with two extra songs on it - what a killer idea, one similar to Massacre's "From Beyond"! It was necessary to buy vinyl anyway, as such music sounds best in this format, but an extra 7" with exclusive songs only makes it more worthy. First is “Dawn of the Deluge” and it’s one of the best tracks of this band! It’s of course demonically slow, old school to the bone, maybe slightly more melodic, but so fuckin great that I wonder why this song hasn’t been putted also on a CD. Anyway, I don’t care, I’ve got LP and can listen to it and trust me, this is great song. And side B of the EP has Dr Shrinker’s “Dead by Dawn” cover, hmm I don’t remember the original now, but it really sounds great, fast and with killer, morbid riffs!
So, I definitely recommend getting vinyl for those, who're interested in Obliteration. The only fault of this album is the awfully colorful cover - I have no idea what's going on in that picture - which is a big contrast to the rest of the layout, which is a basic black / white, simple design, with only the gothic letters' text of song titles, all the info about the recording, thanx list and a band photo. Sadly there are no lyrics, but only short descriptions for each track, like "Catacombs of Horror" (Resurrected, they rise from their tombs. Graves of the forgotten dead) or "Ingesting Death" (Morbid thoughts of human meat. Find some whore, eat her raw). How nice, but I wish to read them all.
Well, I do realize that "Nekropsalms" won't be liked by everyone. Definitely this is an album, which will only catch the attention of die hard death metal maniacs. It's just too filthy and obscure to the average metal fan, the production is too raw and the riffs not technical (sick!) enough... But if you look for a great companion to "Macabre Eternal", then I cannot think of any better albums that this one. For me actually this is even better than the post reunion Autopsy, so... Die, but die hard!
Best tracks: “Dawn of the Deluge”, "The Spawn of a Dying Kind", "Ingesting Death"
Norse death metal has not truly seen its day since the era of Molested. Sure, Blood Red Throne has done their very best to keep our corpses rotting in the interim, but they have recently been joined by another slowly gathering force, Obliteration. 2007's debut album Perpetual Decay was a fine introduction to the band's atmospheric, old school festering horror, but their second splatter, Nekropsalms, takes this one step further, a rambling and decrepit offering that truly tests the dank waters of the form (much like Molested did those many years ago). The word to describe this album is: morbid. Obliteration do not struggle to impress you with fast, blasting hyper-rhythms or maniacal displays of chug and virtuosity...they can create a hypnotic fermentation through sheer willpower and minimal hints of progression.
I seriously felt maggots birthing in my eyewells and cobwebs forming across my beard as I listened to this album. It is the true sound of rot, the horror of the grave as the bodies moulder and commit themselves to the cycle of micro-organic rebirth. "Ingesting Death" starts with roaming guitars and bass, ellipsing into strange seconds of discord, like the last light dying from the eyes of the recently deceased. If this doesn't creep you the fuck out, "Catacombs of Horror" will absorb you like a river of sentient molasses. Slow, chugging beneath the deep, desolate vocals of Sindre Solem, with some freakout bass effects and glinting chords to add just enough melodic shine to the destructive depression. The band clearly has their roots in death/doom metal, and a healthy (or unhealthy) amount of influence from pioneers like Autopsy, Obituary and Death (the death metal Death, before the cosmic hippy boredom). Just when you thought all would be crawling along like a perpetual bowel movement, the track "Exterminate" opens with a moment of broiling slaughter, bouncing bass and infernal thrust. "The Spawn of a Dying Kind" transforms creepy, wailing guitars into another slow, crepitating abysmal vomitscape, and "Nekropsalms Evoke the Frozen Age" indeed. "Styxerian Path (Into Darkness)" is another track with a faster intro, which crashes about like a decapitated meat colossus in a slaughter farm, until it finally falls over and the blood slowly saps out of its neck. The album closes with the 9+ minute epic "The Worm That Gnaws in the Night", and we are re-visited by the trippy bass hypnosis and a surge of mid-paced, 'uplifting' rhythms, that later ascend into more grindy material and then a total chaotic collapse.
The band has outdone itself with this release, and the Nekropsalms sound ancient and horrific. Repeated listens continue to offer me more insight into this living death, the album is like being a symbiote inside the null-mind of a zombie as it trudges through a landscape of rotting carcasses, decided where and whether to feed and pondering the parasites that pick at its flesh from their invisible world. Though it's not nearly as chaotic or technically adept, the album reminds of Gorguts' Obscura in so much that it transforms the death metal tradition into a nubile realm of decadent exploration. I would certainly classify this as 'psychedelic' death metal. But not high off drugs. High off decay.
Highlights: Catacombs of Horror, The Spawn of a Dying Kind, The Worm That Gnaws in the Night