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Chasmic blackened thrash - 80%

we hope you die, December 3rd, 2020

Sicily’s Lich open this split EP with two tracks of frantic yet cavernous extreme metal. Much like Finland’s Lantern, it lifts riffs from pre-second wave black metal and old school death metal, using these rudiments to craft passages of uncontrolled blasting, interrupted by doom breakdowns that invoke those trademark chasmic atmospheres that are all the rage these days. Although the production is not too heavy handed with the reverb – aside from the vocals that feel like someone yelling from the other side of a hill – it still invokes the feeling of being in a large, underground cave system.

This is achieved largely through the riffs themselves, which are at once constrictive yet constantly opening out new spaces. Simple descending chord progressions with quickfire accents give the feeling of sinking beneath the ground, into the bowels of the earth. Uncontrolled vocal ejaculations and layers of guitar feedback offer tantalising hints of size behind the chaos of the music’s shopfront. Drums are a hardworking presence for Lich. Although left relatively flat in the mix, they are a wash of thundering rhythms and chaotic blast-beats which endeavour to constantly challenge the guitars to keep up with their shifts in mood and urgency. Frantic subterranean death metal with hidden layers of drama couched within the fray.

For their half, Ossario offer up another iteration of precision blackened thrash, as a continuation of their debut self-titled EP released back in June. Take the depressive drone of early Hellhammer, speed up the tempos, tighten up the rhythm section, and you have an approximation of the Ossario philosophy. Production is pleasingly clear, giving us full view of the mechanics of the drums. The guitar retains enough bite to keep us in dirty blackened thrash territory. Vocals are of a high-end death metal variety, operating on that Martin van Drunen metric of strained aggression, but retaining enough control to allow for rhythmic precision and effective phrasing.

This punch-and-run style lends itself to the short-form setting of the split EP, and provides a welcome survey of the rudiments of narrative composition. The opening riff is driven through a couple of subtle variations, a midpoint breakdown whereby the tempo drops completely, and doom laden chords are granted breathing space to build the tension back up, before the original riff is revisited under the new context granted by the preceding passages, and a finale riff to bring things to a climatic conclusion. Both tracks follow this basic pattern, although the bridge riffs of ‘A Grave Within the Mind’ are defined by the introduction of lead guitars in the form of frantic fretboard murder over shifts in tempo. Ossario’s contribution to this EP makes for a dense, efficient rendering of frantic blackened thrash that retains a sense of evil romanticism inherent in the spirit of early underground extreme metal at its most exhilarating.

Originally published at Hate Meditations