Emerging from the minds of members of Swallow The Sun and Ghost Brigade, Endless Forms Most Gruesome is a malformed new creature birthed to pay tribute to ‘bass register guitars and November vibes in Central Finals’ according to themselves. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting so I can’t confirm their success in the latter, but if you like low tuned guitars you’ve come to the right place.
Endless Forms Most Gruesome‘s debut comes across as some kind of strange lovechild of ‘Monotheist’ era Celtic Frost and what I imagine Meshuggah would sound like if they were heavily sedated and instructed to try and make a doom adjacent metal record.
There’s the marriage of the neanderthal darkness of the former, and some of the latter’s spacier moments of spidery guitar atmospherics. There’s also the same attention to presenting swampy, heavy music with the utmost clarity. It’s there in the enormous guitar sound (which sounds like a beefed up HM2 rammed into a Fuzzface) and the intelligibility of the hoarse vocals. The thug meeting the artisan at a halfway house.
The band themselves make much of being influenced, at least in part, by the likes of Korn and Deftones in terms of groove – and at a push you can just about hear this come through on a track like Death Wish in a fairly vague manner – but there’s little to worry about here if you’re allergic to nu metal bar an overall sense of accessibility. Instead the root of the music, seems to me, to be a vague nod to the slower moments of 90s death metal.
[A Thousand Years In Hell] is possibly the best track here, the perfect balance of malicious slow motion riff bludgeon and atmospherics…
A track like Free Fall From Womb To Grave carries the guitar churn of Morbid Angel and melds it to glassy clean guitar phrases and a hint of violin, or ‘Goat’ will drop in an unexpected flash on clean vocals. All of this lifts it out of any particular pigeon hole but provides enough sustenance for fans of metal’s more extreme sides.
The twin pillars here are the monstrous death waltzes A Thousand Years In Hell and Incinerate Me, jutting out of the album like two towers on the horizon. The former is possibly the best track here, the perfect balance of malicious slow motion riff bludgeon and atmospherics, with a vocal moment dropped in that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Supuration’s lost futurist death metal classic The Cube.
Incinerate Me is the darkest moment on the album without losing any of the structure or catchiness, and it builds to a double bass propelled finale climax that really ratchets up the tension before allowing a breath into The Usual Catastrophe‘s tricksy rhythms and rotating riffing.
Truth be told there’s no real weak spots here. Perhaps some of the cleaner vocals aren’t the most authoritative but they add light and shade. And that’s very much what this album is about musically. In terms of taking an influence from the depths of the metal underground and presenting it through a more listener friendly funnel without losing any heaviness or bite, it’s an impressive piece of work.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes