Did you know that there is a Helvetic Underground Community and their mission statement is “advancement of grotesque, vile, depraved and putrid audio torment?” I bet their meetings, hidden away somewhere in the Swiss Alps are great fun and woe betide the person who forgot to pick up the chocolate on the way when it was their turn. One thing Lykhaeon can’t be blamed for is not sticking to the rules of this hideous club, which also includes bands such as Death. Void. Terror., Ungfell and Dakhma. This opus which consists of 2 tracks both stretching to a nerve shredding 13 minutes each is truly hideous stuff. The EP follows on from 2015 album ‘Tanz der Entleibten’ and has apparently been a couple of years in the making. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that they recorded it in the deepest darkest cave in the Swiss Transilvania and had to be rescued after eating a band member. Maybe they went in as a quartet and came out as a trio; who knows, the imagination brings all sorts of ghastly thoughts to the surface whilst listening to this.
I have done just this on both the disc that was kindly sent in and on the Bandcamp link just to make sure that I had the production sound clear in my mind. Clear is the last thing this is, a dense cleft of cavernous rumbling bottom end is foully belched out from the sulphurous pits and the bowels of hell itself. This is like being clubbed round the head with large mallets and then some. The diabolic sermon is split into Chthonios I and II and the irreligious depths that K, S and Infermità plummet you down is deeper than any abyss you would rightly consider yourself traversing. The first part starts with what sounds like boulders rolling down a booby trapped cavern crushing everything in their path, coarse vocal roars and shrieks harrowingly holler behind them and what sounds like primitive man striking metal can be heard from the cymbals. This is blacker than tar and speeds off without a shred of mercy. Amidst the graven miasma a sharp tone rings out piercing eardrums and things settle into a sinister stygian shroud of mist and dreadful atmosphere which allows you to imagine the fog enshrouded figures playing on stage with thick foul incense cloying up the nasal senses. There are spoken word parts amidst the slow doomy parts here adding to the foreboding sense, what they are saying exactly is lost in the void but it is certainly unsettling. Chthonic Howls are the self-described form and that is spot on as they gibber behind the now slow lurching groove. Of course the pace dive bombs back in and the respite has gone as things thunder and then dissolve towards a nebulous and discordant conclusion.
If you have made it this far it’s time for the second rite and it is none less dreadful. We are truly in hell and the angry vocals are contorted and bestial as the hammer smashing drums chop and churn with a real primeval bludgeoning force about them. Madness follows every step of the way. There is no corner to hide in here even when we do get another downing of tools and a doom like slow crush. The instruments may eventually stop but noise fills the ears, a surging rush like wind escaping or maybe souls fleeing down a tunnel. The vile preaching is not at rest either and spells are being cast out, maybe they are trying to restore order from the chaos we have just witnessed; it’s eerie and downright scary. Somehow though we have survived this ritualistic and blasphemous channelling but sound roars back in; maybe not…….
Seriously this is one to approach with utmost caution!
(7/10 Pete Woods)