This album kills. I mean it literally sounds like it has the potential to warp listener’s minds and inspire them to end lives. I’d like to play my part in furthering its corruptive intent.
The title track begins with what is either the whistling of the wind, or a portent of something far more ominous. The sparse strum of a guitar enters the soundscape, an eerie, arrhythmic assault on the strings more than any sort of actual chord. It’s not melody, it’s an audio threat.
Nimble cymbal taps give the first hint that this may become anything even approaching a song before it all collides into a rusted, groaning riff. This is sludge distilled down to the bare essentials; guitars that don’t so much swagger as stagger, vocals that are more like puking up booze than singing the blues.
Four minutes in it becomes even more tortuous, the tempo slowing to a crawl, dual vocalists howling and retching words I don’t dare try to look up. It’s a draining listen. And I mean that as the highest of praise.
Feedback segues the first track into ‘Tell Your God To Ready For Blood’, which is a phrase taken from the much-lauded TV show Deadwood. This track has all the sparseness and menace of a brutal frontier town itself. The opening minutes of this thirteen minute exercise in audio terror are all discordance and the beating of drums. Not drumbeats, but beating. It’s all downbeat and oppressive ’til about halfway through, when something approaching a groove kicks in. Well, it’s a groove like the serrated rasp of a blade against vertebrae, but it’s like fucking Grand Funk Railroad compared to the first half of the song. There’s even a guitar solo at one point.
The track creeps, crawls, and slithers to a close, and you’ll probably need a while to steel yourself before turning over to play side two.
‘It Came From The Bog’ sounds like the suffocating dread you’d feel as the eponymous ‘it’ drags itself towards you, all water-bloated rot and crazed cataract stare. Sporadic drums fill your skull, like the echoing of a tomb before they coalesce into something like a rhythm. Not like you’ll be tapping your feet to it or anything, but it’s slightly less of an agonising cacophony. These are all complimentary phrases you understand, to me there is nothing better than being scared by music, and the four depraved souls who make up On Pain Of Death have recorded something that definitely succeeds at that.
Between eight and nine minutes in the thing from the bog has devoured it’s quarry, and the track shifts gear, almost becoming a melancholy funeral march, if the pallbearers were more interested in hacking through the casket and feasting on the remains.
With just a few minutes left before I can come up for air, things morph once more into what sounds like the filthiest grindcore being played at about 6.66 revolutions per minute. The slow ache of a violin joins the fray to add an extra layer of for-fucks-sake-quit-creeping-me-out before what sounds like actual torture and anguish closes the track.
My mind is sufficiently warped. Hopefully I won’t kill anyone as a result.
When I first heard this album I couldn’t wait for it to receive a physical release, and thankfully it’s now available as a limited cassette from Dry Cough Records and you can also download the whole thing for free from Handshake Inc, though I suggest you donate some pennies towards it.
Scribed by: Ross McKendrick