I caught this Dutch lot previously known as Liar Liar Cross On fire when they supported The Great Old Ones at the Unicorn at the beginning of 2013. At the time I found them a pretty hefty brew of black clad grimness and sludge laden doom with some incredibly muscular instrumentation which had me comparing them to the likes of Wolves In The Throne Room and Neurosis. This is their first actual full length album after a couple of splits an EP and single and it certainly reminds me of the pulverising force the band illustrated live. To be fair although retaining many elements that I remembered you could now easily categorise them firmly within the post black metal side of things and the band spend no time in thrusting you firmly into the barraging whirlwind of sonic brutality that pretty much doesn’t let go throughout this 6 track 50 minute album.
Opener ‘Absence’ charges straight in and hits you like being caught in the middle of a full length pub brawl. Blackened in essence there is a much more hardcore orientated roar from vocalist Joost Vervoot, he does a sterling job sounding incredibly pissed off as the multi-layered guitar velocity decimates everything around it. There’s no real let up as it barks and snarls away until a sudden stop precisely brings in the first doom laden passage which occasionally gives a bit of breathing space on the album. Melody is strong and tight and there’s no denying the brutality behind it all as songs stretch over pretty lengthy running times. Bursts of adrenaline build up and then it all slows down into a craggy but controlled morass. It’s only a brief pause before the next one fire’s up the machinery and jangles away in a frenzy and you are dragged through a hedge backwards once again. The guitarists pretty much play in a style that makes you think their fingers must be getting cut to shreds as they angularly build up and attack from all angles. Although the vocals are not what I would go looking for in this type of music they fit well in here and we can add a sore throat along with the bleeding fingers, none of the band do things by halves that’s for sure. I do prefer music like this to have a bit more atmosphere but luckily this track the superbly entitled ‘A Marriage of Flesh and Air’ does again have a brief respite in it but on the whole long passages here could be looked on as a bit on the one dimensional side due to the constant in your face attack. Suddenly it changes though and ‘Averoas’ doesn’t go about ripping your face off and offers a gloomy plodding beat to it with shrill guitars grating away at a slower pace in the background. It’s just as weighty though covering you in layers of slow setting concrete. It certainly shows a more experimental side to the band but if you think that means the vocals chill out with it, think again.
For me though it’s the second half of the album the band really comes into their own with the all out ground zero flattening levelled by ‘Contre le monde, contre la vie’ showing them at their most dynamic. The savagery here is really noted as are the underlying glistening guitar tones as things slow down and the balance here between styles really hits the mark. The primal rage and jagged riffs of the strangely named ‘Geryon – See Extinguished the Sight of Everything but the Monster’ bring everything to a pitch black boiling point, the jangling melody is excellent too as this one flies and flails away like an angry child throwing a complete tantrum and breaking everything they can lay their hands on. After this strafing the last track ‘Sacrifice – A Final Paroxysm’ by contrast really calms it all down and these two tracks are definitely the best on the album for me. The shimmering malevolence of this concluding piece is rich in atmosphere, and it feels like they saved it all up for the last number with a heady slow brooding melody unravelling over an epic 9 minutes.
Terzij de Horde have served up a dense and violent debut here after spending a fair bit of time leading up to it and the results have certainly paid off. This is a solid album once you manage to get beneath the layers and hopefully the band won’t be long putting in an appearance again to these shores so I can catch some of it live.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)