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Rawness and enthusiasm only go so far. - 60%

Stillborn Machine, July 28th, 2016

Primordial and misshapen horrors were said to have dwelled in the swampy depths of the extreme metal underground during the ’80s, many of them resembling radiation-soaked mutations of the most base and atavist elements of extreme metal. It’s a time that even with the advent of the internet is still shrouded in mystery, home to few well-known names like Deceased and Morbid Angel alongside countless obscurities such as Exmortis, Necrovore, Dead Conspiracy, and Bloodspill. So what happens when someone attempts to recreate this dark age of metal?

Well, mixed results first and foremost. After all, for all the romanticizing of this time period, it had many flaws and ZOM’s debut is a good example of this, authentic in its throwback nature and accurate in that it has the strengths as well as weaknesses associated with the countless metal legions that would never make it far beyond a few demos.

ZOM’s sound revels in primal riffage with a deliberate absence of melody, with much of their riffing existing in an interesting grey zone from when death and black metal were nearly done excising much of the thrash influence and starting to tone down the punk. They are absurdly evocative, lacking the polish and streamlining of those who’d come afterwards in exchange for such basic but viscerally gripping riff shapes that battle it out in the depths like ancient predators determining the food chain’s hierarchy.

These songs batter and gnash against themselves in generally fast-paced chromatic conflict, haphazard in their transition between altering tempos and flippant attitude towards structure. Even when they slow down, it certainly doesn’t feel tamed or warmed over, still dripping bile and blood from mandibles and claws before lunging into a blast-buffered fury. The end result is a satisfyingly feral package that is shamelessly arrogant in its reductive riffing and hits with the force of a stampeding barbarian horde.

Unfortunately, this strength is linked to its greatest flaw. Namely, that they sacrifice coherency for carnage. Although they use but a handful of riffs for each one, the emphasis on constant extremes of riffing and pacing lends to a few moments of dawdling, directionless excess. Transitions can come across as coming too early, leaving many of their thematic precepts underdeveloped or simply left hanging. Many of these riffs, while they work individually, have a bit of trouble connecting as a whole so the nuts and bolts that hold a lot of these tracks together are shaky compositionally and questionably chosen in other occasions. In that sense it resembles a garage-level death metal band that’s actually a bit more confident than the average competition but still has the same flaw in that these songs have trouble developing overarching ideas to hold it all together and derive a greater sense of purpose or even order from their barely contained chaos.

If you can look past that and just want some hellish noise from the depths of forgotten times, then this album will click with you more than its lukewarm score might imply. It’s a great idea, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not really a fully developed one. Quick flashes of promise peer out here and there and hopefully these Irelanders will go ahead and capitalize on it for future releases. For now it’s a satisfying, if a little limiting, extreme metal experience.

Originally posted on The Metal Observer

Blackish, Punkish, Deathish - 83%

flightoficarus86, February 26th, 2015

Zom is a blackened death metal band from Colorado. Another tasty surprise from Dark Descent Records, it was the first one to catch my ear in 2015. If you liked what you heard from the last Malthusian EP and are dying like me for a full length release, this may help scratch that itch in the meantime. Flesh Assimilation sports similar production and vocals, but is faster and groovier. There is a crust punk vibe permeating through the drums, but the riffs are still the jangly tremolos of blackened thrash.

The vocal approach, for those not familiar with my previous reference to Malthusian, can be described as a grim, cavernous, howling. The echo and reverb provide a hellish quality without detracting from the already imposing performance. Production is raw, but more in line with early Slayer albums than the pure kvlt of Darkthrone or Burzum. And the 80’s thrash references don’t stop at the sound quality. The occasional chaotic solo is not something out of the ordinary for Zom either.

If asked to provide a little more detail about Zom, I am hard pressed. The only further impression I can give is to drop a few names of artists whose fans might gravitate towards it: early Behemoth, late Darkthrone, Slayer, Absu, Gorgoroth, Mayhem, Taake, Vader, and Pig Destroyer. Hopefully the diversity of that list will help illustrate the various sounds at play.

Bottom line: this is a fun album. I was tapping my feet and bobbing my head throughout the duration; something of a quantifier for me these days. While Flesh Assimilation is not necessarily doing anything new, its genre fusions and tight compositions place it above many similar acts. Furthermore, the length is perfect: it doesn’t overstay its welcome, nor does it leave you feeling shorted. Check the album out for yourself at their Bandcamp. You can thank me later.


Flesh Assimilation - 70%

Twin_guitar_attack, December 11th, 2014

Zom's Multiversal Holocaust EP last year was great, bringing to mind the devastating black/death metal of Mayhem's Deathcrush, but with a static, digital sounding production that made it sound like sublime lo-fi chaos. So the new album Flesh Assimilation is one I anticipated highly, and the end result, if a little less chaotic than the EP, is a solid début album from a good band.

ZOM channel the filthy sound of early Mayhem and Darkthrone, with a more chaotic, insane sound, straddling the line between death and black metal, with a dose of grind thrown in for good measure. The speedy tremolo riffs and dirty fuzz of the bass on the brutishly old school Tomb of the Void are pure Deathcrush worship, while the death doom riffs and brutish drumming of Conquest take you back to the sound of Darkthrone's Soulside Journey. The closing title track is pure filthy blackened grindcore, and those riffs are both delightfully groovy and brutal, and throughout the album the fusion of grind, black and death metal, with a more modern sounding production is pretty intense. With a gruff death metal bark somewhat akin to Dismember's Matti Kärki the vocals are aggressive and raw, suiting the brutish music. The drums are great throughout the album, particularly that killer double bass sound, providing pure death metal barrages.

The production job is chaotic, throwing everything together in a thick wall of sound, and it sounds good. However the slight cleaning up of the sound, and the use of a more generic death/black metal production rather than the intense trebly assault of Multiversal Holocaust is undeniably a let down. It sounds a bit more like a chaotic throwback to the early days of black/death metal - a damned good one however. The digital noise between each track sounds great and gives it an unsettling atmosphere, but it works a little less on here than it would've on the aforementioned EP.

Overall it's not quite as original as one would like, but it's still a decent slab of extreme metal, which at points is intense, and if the combination of very early Darkthrone and Mayhem, with a tinge of Codex Necro-era blackened grindcore sounds like your thing (and why wouldn't it?) then you're still in for a treat.

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