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Dungeon Metal - 90%

DementiaAccess, May 9th, 2021

The debut self-titled release of Pennsylvania's Tartarus Horde is a very refreshing brand of nasty knuckle-dragging death metal, but not without just enough finesse to make it stand out amongst its peers. Although it suggests technicality, it's never in an overbearing or unnecessary way. The technical nature of the music is closer to bands like Malignancy, focusing more on the attack and atmosphere of the instrumentation and love for the genre, rather than greedy showboating. By the end of the release, which is sadly only roughly a half hour in length, one tends to feel as though they've been placed directly into the chaos depicted on the album cover.

The drums are very tight and aggressive, fast when it needs to be, and slow/mid-tempo when it needs to be, although the footwork could use some brushing up on. The bass acts as its own instrument rather than just being accessory to what's going on in the music (like Atheist for instance, which is clearly an influence on the bassist). The riffs seem to be almost improvised and collected from a wide range of influence while still remaining tightly in the vain of death metal, only breaking out of the genre on the cleverly ominous "Silver Strands of the Ethereal Bridge" which seems to be inspired by dungeon synth and a touch of 70's dark folky psychadelia. The sort of disjointed amalgamation of ideas works very well, especially on the menacing and bleak track "Incantations of Dissident Tongues," and the brief frenzied whirlwind of chunks titled "Possession of Mythic Armaments." The tone of the guitar matches the sinister nature of the riffs perfectly, which can be fairly uncommon in modern death metal releases. It has a beastly gut-scraping roar to it that complements the vocals nicely.

I would imagine the production is deliberately gritty, which is a nice touch, but the drums could be mixed better. The drummer is quite fierce and it can be difficult to hear what he's doing at times. The spoken-word theatrics tend to get a bit tiring. And although it's not out of place at all, it's slightly excessive, particularly on the last track "Ascension of Chaotic Intellect" which approaches 1/3rd of the album's entire length. I wouldn't call it a flaw, but that's time that could be spent wielding more deliciously chunky riffs. I believe the Horde deserves more attention and will likely attract it on their future efforts.