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Embrace the Lovecraftian horror. - 86%

hells_unicorn, January 7th, 2022

The cemetery grass may be greener on the other side of the death metal hill, but rarely is it the case that a group of musicians credited with helping create one distinct movement within said metal subgenre to venture effectively into the territory of another. Then again, stylistic boundaries haven’t been much of an issue for At The Gates front man Tomas Lindberg given his association with the more grindcore-tinged Lock Up alongside Shane Embury of Napalm Death fame, as well as his involvement with the recently reformed Israeli death/doom outfit Sign Of Cain. But there is a particularly fascinating eventuality to consider in Lindberg, along with fellow At The Gates members Adrian Erlandsson and Jonas Stalhammar venturing into the old school Stockholm sound, culminating in a dark, dank and decrepit expression of Lovecraftian horror set to death metal that is The Lurking Fear.

Drawing from the dissonant and dreary world occupied by Swedish death metal early entries Entombed, Dismember and Grave, this is a fold that is unapologetically retro in its approach, yet highly effective in communicating its message of cosmic fear to a present day audience. The signature blend of raw coldness and archaic brutality straddles the line between the trappings of the early 1990s and the larger, denser production practices that have typified much of the old school death metal sound in its 2010s revivalist context. Alongside the mid-ranged grunts and growls of Lindberg, the musicianship displayed by the rest of the fold is underscored by a sense of creepiness and deep, atmospheric dimensions that transforms a simple blend of bludgeoning riffs, murky bass lines and raucous drum work into a tapestry of sound so vivid that it could transport the mind of any listener to the sunken city of R’lyeh.

In similar fashion to this fold’s 2017 debut outing Out Of The Voiceless Grave, 2021’s Death, Madness, Horror, Decay presents a dense, yet mostly impact-based collection of thrashing anthems out of the abyssal plain. Though the titles are equally as cryptically worded as their source material, the template at work behind the words is of a simple character, drawing heavily from noted early Stockholm classics such as Like An Everflowing Stream, Left Hand Path and Into The Grave. Likewise, while the duration of each musical chapter is on the short side and a melancholy melodic overhang stands in the stead of any overt technical noodling, the songwriting on display is both impressive and compelling. Just about the only thing that could really be counted as a flaw in the manner that this album unfolds is that with a few notably longer exceptions, these songs are concise and streamlined to a slight fault.

From beginning to end, this opus is an exercise in unfailing consistency, with each chapter leaning deep into the maddening realm of the infinite. Generally the most involved and ensnaring anthems also happen to be the longest and most complex, with the blinding speed and marshy contours of “Death, Madness, Horror, Decay” and the crawling, organ-steeped creep of “Leech Of The Aeons” being the obvious highlights. But even when the death thrashing assault takes on a more uniform character and lays on the chaotic riff work and thunderous deluge of drum hits as on “In A Thousand Horrors Crowned” and shorter bursts of abstract aggression like “Ageless Evil” and “Cosmic Macabre”, the general ebb and flow of this album stands uninterrupted, like the ravings of a mad soothsayer in the cult of Cthulhu being organized into a series of structured sermons to the throngs of chanting followers.

This is an offering that plants its flag thoroughly in the old school death metal revivalist camp, but when peeling back the decrepit exterior a bit, there is a noticeable melodic death metal element imported from part of this fold’s Gothenburg background that sets it apart from other more precise recreations of the old Stockholm sound. As such, it is sure to carry equal appeal to fans of At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, and specifically the earliest incarnations of said bands when the old school sound imported from the Florida scene was still along for the ride. For those who might doubt this album’s commitment to the old school sound, the special edition contains two wicked renditions of classic anthems by early death/thrash innovators Possessed and Slaughter, perfectly illustrating where the original material found on here owes much of its inspiration. It’s an incremental yet overall noticeable improvement upon its 2017 predecessor, carrying an additional ton of aggression and a fair measure of further elaboration.

Originally written for Sonic Perspectives (www.sonicperspectives.com)

The nightmare returns... - 85%

spookymicha666, December 10th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Century Media Records (Limited edition, Digipak)

The filthy, stinking At The Gates brother is back with the second album called Death, Madness, Horror, Decay. One may ask At the Gates brother? Yep, three of the five members of The Lurking Fear work in At The Gates, too (namely Adrian Erlandsson, Jonas Stålhammar and Tomas Lindberg) but instead of playing some melodic death metal with an intellectual painting, The Lurking Fear perform very brutal old school death metal. On the predecessor Out Of The Voiceless Grave lyrical topics dealt with stories by H.P. Lovecraft and if you check the titles, you could think that the major topic are the Great Old Ones again but if you get more into the lyrics, you will find out that it deals more with subliminal and unearthly horror than with the real Lovecraft stories.

The albums starts off with a creeping, gloomy intro with some whispered words and a horrific atmosphere that won't let you expect anything nice while listening to the other 12 tracks. Soon the metal madness ('Abyssal Slime') starts with a merciless riff and powerful drums that will blast you right on the wall. Full speed ahead! Tompa's voice sounds really insane, just like as if he was inside the insane asylum telling some horror stories to his doctor. Simple and fast riffing dominates the first part of the album and you can find some homage to groundbreaking bands like Autopsy (I guess the basic riff in 'Funeral Abyss' is borrowed from “Ridden With Disease”, eh?), Voivod or the early Swedish death metal scene here and there. With the progress of the album the band sometimes decreases the speed within their tracks and builds in some more atmospheric elements like driving, repetitive and hypnotic riffs which try to capture your sanity to let you sink in this maelstrom of madness that the band creates on this album. Nevertheless, the songs appear like a steamroller that is crushing down everything in its path.

I have to state that The Lurking Fear really convinced me with that album while I was a little bit disappointed of the first one because it felt a bit one-dimensional and uninspired. Here they perform straight up old-school death metal without any unnecessary elements or boring parts. Death, Madness, Horror, Decay just creates a dense horrid atmosphere closed with a very disturbing and ass-kicking song called 'Leech Of The Aeons' which is quite a long track for this album (most songs last about 2 – 3 minutes). Some other recommendable songs on this output are 'Death Reborn' (a merciless wrecking ball that lasts only 1:09 (!) but leaves no open questions), 'Architects Of Madness' (a catchy track with brutal riffing and thundering drums) or 'In A Thousand Horrors Crowned' (you can find some more punk / HC influences here).

At the end, I have to mention a slight point of criticism – the production. I have the feeling that the drums are a little bit overproduced. Somehow they sound a little bit strange, sometimes a little rushing noise, I would say. But this will just appear to you if you listen quite intensely to the album.

So, if you feel like taking a trip full of horror and insanity, you should take a risk to listen to Death, Madness, Horror, Decay. My guess is, you won't be disappointed.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 psychotic trips

Originally written for metalbite.com

Old, School, Death, Metal - 72%

Hames_Jetfield, November 24th, 2021

After the premiere of "The Nightmare Of Being" the dust settled, and a few months later...3/5 line-up of At The Gates hit with "Death, Madness, Horror, Decay" by The Lurking Fear project, that is strongly associated with the known band! Okay, The Lurking Fear can boast not only members and patents from At The Gates. After all, they also have the influences of a few others (more on that in a moment), but it's known, the music of the Swedes under this name is mainly treated as the alter ego of this "main" band, i.e. as more old school death metal and in opposition to the melodic (or progressive) face.

Anyway, "Death, Madness, Horror, Decay" continues a lot of threads from the debut. So, it's still a compromise between the sounds of At The Gates and those like Entombed, Grave or Dismember, but most importantly, it's still nothing that is forced. Yes, all of the elements of this music (i.e. melodies, heaviness, oldschool or general dynamics) flow very naturally here and you can hear that the musicians just had a great time when they were recording it. It's not much for such names, and in the context of the previous album even less, but, as I mentioned, the whole cd is listened to really well, it does not lack a decent sound and it lasts quite optimally for a 12-track material (about 38 minutes). In fact, with such brevity, virtually any of the tracks could be suitable for a single. Okay, "Restless Death" or "Leech Of The Aeons" are distinguished by a more twisted atmosphere (as if from..."The Nightmare Of Being"!), but also in them those keyboard accents serve only as an addition to the death sounds.

With such albums as "Death, Madness, Horror, Decay" the summary is quite classic. Those who like "Out Of The Voiceless Grave" will also like "Death, Madness, Horror, Decay", there are probably no other options. Alternatively...possibly those who like At The Gates may be tempted too.

Originally on: https://subiektywnymetal.blogspot.com/2021/11/the-lurking-fear-death-madness-horror.html