Ne’er has an album title been quite so apt, as the industrial-flecked black death metal of Ævangelist writhes, twists and froths under a thick swathe of hovering murk, out of which leap savage rhythms, jarring discords, roaring vocal ejaculations and other less savoury flailing sonics.
Writhes In The Murkis the third full-length recording for the duo of multi-instrumentalist Matron Thorn and vocalist Ascaris, coming less than twelve months after the release of previous album Omen Ex Simulcara but taking a slightly different approach than that gnarly blackened death metal juggernaut by taking the bulldozing intensity down a notch, allowing some breathing space around the ringing ugly discord and scything chug and adding additional instrumentation to the miasmic mix, opening up the sonic palette somewhat.
Sitting within the pernicious penumbra of fellow fog-bound abstract death/black metal tweakers Portal, Mitochondrion and Antediluvian, Ævangelist cloak their schizophrenic take on death metal in a swathe of smeared abyssal ambience but know exactly when to leaven it to let the grinding guitars and vocal emanations bleed through relatively unhampered.
There is a dark ambience at play within the sound of Writhes In The Murkthat takes its cues from the likes of Lustmord and welds the darkness to the alternately anvil-heavy and swarming shriek of the kind of guitars to be found in the woefully underrated Controlled Bleeding side-project Skin Chamber – fans of that late lamented duo will find much in here to enjoy – and Avant-Doom miserablists Khanate and Bloody Panda, along with a healthy dose of the blast furnace guitar and double-bass kick that happens when grinders like Pig Destroyer and Discordance Axis play fast and loose with tempo. Trace elements of the icy-cold angular skronk of Mayhem are also prominent and Ascaris‘ vocals morph and writhe unpleasantly and throatily not unlike that bands’ Attila Csihar at times, whilst at others his guttural abyssic grunt calls to mind the clock-faced Curator of fellow murk-dwellers Portal.
Hosannaemerges from a kaleidoscopic disorienting haze of guitar, disturbing ambience and smeared atmospherics, as chugging riffs and busily roaming drums tumble in courtesy of Thorn and the deeply buried inhuman slurring roar of Ascaris begins to sound and it is clear that things are not right. The ominous hulking chug of guitar slides into see-sawing swarms of discord, the drums begin to pound out a double-bass tattoo and Ascaris‘ thick glottals assume a scratchy, phlegmy choking wretch. As the track progresses the entire structure flexes, ebbs and warps as flurries of caustic guitar weave in and out of the fog and vocals swoop from baritone croon to subhuman growl, climaxing in the literal sound of collapse with rubble falling and everything left in ruined disarray.
Lurching out of the smouldering remains, the lurch and pummel of The Only Graveamps the intensity right up with steely atonal riffs and detonating drums like cluster mines. Ascaris glowers and howls wetly before the drums drop out and screams fill the air, accompanied by seriously odd-sounding bass guitar and thick glottal burblings. As the double-bass drums pound relentlessly the instrumentation around them shreds the very fabric of the song itself giving rise to strange bass-led detours, swells of synth and seriously off-kilter rhythms.
Præternigmafollows along similar lines but goes slightly further out with regards to Ævangelist‘s proclivity for tweaking the mix on a track-by-track basis, as the building blocks that make up the sound shift in depth and prominence across its length.
At a hair over four minutes, the tense atmospheric instrumental Disquiet, built of pulsing programmed percussion, echoing clangs and intricate loops of creaks and clicks, serves as a brief palate cleanser before the insane maelstrom of Ælixirdetonates, filling the air with layers of strange samples, unidentified echoing sounds, free-jazz-inspired drum patterns and icy guitar thrum. During the latter portion of the track, Thorn backs off as Ascaris drops haunting saxophone into the mix before things resume their batshit craziness.
Harken To The Fleshadds crawling dread doom to the arsenal and the scything Halo Of Lamented Gloryis the closest thing to ‘straightforward’ death metal on Writhes In The Murk, if you discount Ascaris‘ decidedly odd heavily effected vocals.
That leaves only Writhes In The Murkitself, starting with ghostly brittle guitar – subtly treated to ricochet around the mix leaving barely audible smears – and meandering bass guitar, until a lumbering heavy riff and matching drums come in and thicken things up considerably. A flurry of speed and some heavily buried vocals aside, the track pretty much sticks to its guns for its entire ten minute span, leaving me slightly disappointed after the wind-warping horror that came before it. A disappointingly staid end to an otherwise thrilling and unpredictable recording, as far as I’m concerned.
Listening to Writhes In The Murkas a whole, the two things that spring to mind are a jigsaw that, once completed, is thrown into the air and reassembled wherever it lands and the alien deity Daoloth, created by Ramsey Campbell in his Cthulhu Mythos tale The Render Of The Veils, an abstract being with a brain-fryingly complex appearance that, when its outline is attempted to be followed by the human eye, induces madness due to its resolutely alien non-Euclidean geometry, which is most certainly appealing to my musical aesthetic sensibilities.
Disappointing climax aside, Writhes In The Murkis a fascinatingly abstract piece of work with a heftily solid sound, production and a truly adventurous spirit, just don’t try to follow it linearly else you’ll find yourself foaming at the mouth and chewing the rug in no time at all.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson