How does a headache-inducing mix of Voivod’s spikiest, most antisocial album, Rrröööaaarrr, and the filth-encrusted doomed early years of disgusting death metal dominators Autopsy sound to you?
If you’re already drooling and fist-banging in anticipation, like me, then you’ll be wanting to hear Black Death Horizon, the difficult third album – and first for the almighty Relapse Records – from Norwegian death metal savages Obliteration.
Hailing from the same small Norwegian town, Kolbotn, that also spawned black metal overlords Darkthrone and the almighty Aura Noir, the four-piece vomit forth a viciously rusted and gnarled form of death metal that smashes together the barbarous discord of Voivod at their most migraine-making and Autopsy’s first two albums of utterly depraved death metal with morbidly doomed tendencies but also takes cues from the crustiest of hardcore punk and the beastlier end of black metal, eventually coming together to give the listener enough ripping headaches to eventually lead to a full-blown mental funeral.
Following the obligatory brief atmospheric intro so beloved of death metal, the funereal opening chords, mournful harmonies and clanging bass of ‘The Distant Sun (They Are The Key)’ rends the air, ushering in the rabid shriek of erstwhile Nekromantheon frontman Sindre Solem as the track begins to slowly build momentum, like a powerful locomotive building up to speed, suddenly accelerating into a breakneck lurch of brutally clubbed drums, rustily spiked bass and filthy hardcore riffing laced with viciously acidic guitar squeals.
Harkening back to the days of Severed Survival, Mental Funeral and the Retribution For The Dead EP, Obliteration take the filthy guitars, sickening harmonies, shrieking wah-wah-ridden leads, brutally loose drums and prominent bass of Autopsy and gives it a primitivist hardcore punk makeunder that adds a temple-smashing syncopation to the sounds that rake the air.
Second track ‘Goat Skull Crown’ leaps around between speeds, with axeman Arlid Myren Torp – also of Nekromantheon – switching between dirty Swede-speed death metal, funereal Trouble/early Paradise Lost guitarmonies, hanging doom chords and uncomfortably steely dissonance at the drop of a bulletbelt and also peeling out leads that sound like Jeff Hanneman, Eric Cutler and Piggy playing all at once, with bassist Didrik Telle and drummer Kristian Vallbo proving more than capable of matching him for speed, bloody-mindedness and barbarism. This is brain-frying, face-melting stuff in full flow.
Solem barks, shrieks, vomits and howls amidst the maelstrom surrounding him, swathed in echo and coughing up blood but not afraid to try something off-kilter too, such as the stentorian semi-operatic baritone that looms across the mid-point of ‘Goat Skull Crown’.
The flashes of Slayer worship that fleetingly emerge from the whirlwind of guitars across the album reach their apogee during ‘Ascendence’, the opening of which is not unlike the opening riff to ‘Reign In Blood’ stretched out and mutilated, but once the bulldozing bass and thrashing drums join in, things are infinitely more horribly unpleasant than anything Slayer could possibly conjure at any point in their career..
In some ways Obliteration are treading ground near to that of Sweden’s Morbus Chron with this spiky, slightly abstract take on Autopsified death metal, but the main thing that really sets their approaches apart is the sheer disgusting filthiness and barbarity of Obliteration‘s sound – clearly they actually paid attention to more than just the riffs when listening to Chris Reifert’s sickening crew.
Indecent and obscene in the extreme, Black Death Horizon will prise apart the plates of soft fragile eggshell skull and scorch your tiny mind, leaving you with nothing but those ripping headaches.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson