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Bite-sized slug nuggets - 86%

iamntbatman, June 20th, 2016

For those of you not aware, I'm a raving Slugathor fanboy. Essentially there's no way I could ever get enough of that band's visionary approach to twisting gigantic Bolt Thrower grooves into misshapen, sable forms that bludgeoned you into a sickly morass using methods just beyond your ability to fully grasp or even describe all while your bones buckled and shattered under the hail of blows. Legendary band, so of course I was saddened a great deal when their promising career petered out. Naturally, you can imagine my excitement when main-man Tommi started up this new project, this time handling all of the instrumentation himself with bowels-of-innermost-hell vocalist Jarno (formerly Slugathor's live bassist) giving an assist.

Well, chuffed though I was, I couldn't help but be let down by that first Desecresy album. The precision and careful attention to detail I had come to expect from Slugathor seemed superseded by a more primal, dare I say punkish approach to both songwriting and performance that felt more intentionally retro and "garage." It was good, sure, but still left me itching. With The Doom Skeptron, that vaguely forced-sounding difference from what we were used to in Slugathor started to melt away a bit, Tommi returning to what he's best at. That trend continues on Chasmic Transcendence. Rolling waves of chugging, powerchord guitars smack you around like some tentacled horror with an unexpectedly shifting, hard-to-pin-down number of flailing, sticky limbs. While the grooves are ceaseless, relentlessly locked in place with Tommi's simple peals of double bass drums and distant, cracking snare, the way the riffs themselves unfold always sounds like the chords are tripping over themselves by virtue of their own momentum. Like the very best Slugathor material (that which came right at the end of their career), the sheer weight of this stuff is at least partially counter-balanced by the inclusion of carefully placed eerie guitar leads.

Despite this continued returning to form, there are still elements of Desecresy that prevent me from rating it quite as highly as I do Slugathor's best albums. For one, the production is good but not quite as flawless as Slugathor managed. The guitars are a bit too dirty (don't worry - it's as strange for me to type that complaint as I'm sure it is for you to read it) and not quite as dense as they ought to be. The snare sounds fine but the bass drums are a bit flimsy, the bass guitar a murky afterthought rather than a muscular driving force behind the overall color of the tone's sound design. The lead guitar is too "close" and organic for what it's doing; more haunting and alien would've been better. In the end all of these complaints basically boil down to "Slugathor did it a bit better," which on some level is perhaps not fair as this is meant to be an entirely different band, yet at the same time I can't really hold back with those sorts of complaints when it sounds to me like the band is, intentionally or otherwise, drifting back toward that style of death metal in the first place.

It's deeply entrenched in the songwriting, too. Every song on here sounds like a snippet of a longer track from Echoes from Beneath. While I can appreciate Tommi trying to rein things in to cut down on song lengths, the net result is that there's a somewhat similar total amount of music, played in a similar style, but instead of those glorious riff transitions, we get roughly double the number of arbitrary halts in the riff-flows where one song ends and another begins. One of the luxuries of being the kind of guy who can write brain-sticking, neck-abusing riffs like Tommi can is that you can ride 'em out for a while, let guitar leads keep spiraling out while the churning guitar maelstrom soldiers on, bring back melodic or rhythmic themes to carry it all back home. That's just not really possible when you've got fourteen short tracks instead of seven longer ones. While there are very few riffs on here that fall short of excellence, the mere fact that the songs (and, to be sure, the album as a whole) suffers from a lack of cohesion that helped tie together those seminal Slugathor works. Hell, maybe Tommi thought he was borrowing a bit too heavily from Bolt Thrower in that regard. Seems to be a pattern not only in metal but in music generally that bands will get pretty indulgent with track lengths before later on deciding to trim things back to shorter, more to-the-point songs. Maybe I just really like indulgent stuff because more often than not that sort of thinking goes hand-in-hand with a sometimes subtle reduction in quality, and that seems to be the case here, too. Not that it sucks, mind - Tommi's still drawing from a seemingly bottomless well of twisting, molten riffs that deliver that heavy ear candy nearly every single time.

Who knows though, maybe you'll like this even more than I do. I could very well see how the more direct, succinct songs of this ever more Slugathorish Desecresy could be a selling point for those who thought the old band's stuff was a bit too ponderous or drawn-out. To me, though, this sounds like deciding to jump back into the pool by slowly wading in until the water's just shy of your naughty bits. Just take the plunge and go full Slugathor, Tommi!