Outre have been out of the spotlight since releasing “Ghost Chants” in 2015, and having finally recruited a full-time vocalist in 2017 now follow up on that debut. The guest vocals from Stawrogin on “Ghost Chants” were, frankly, stylistically all over the place, so it’s immediately evident that “Hollow Ground” benefits from a more consistent vocal delivery than its predecessor.

Sonically, Outre occupy the same impenetrable murky waters as Deathspell Omega, Mgla and others; desolate soundscapes of uncompromising extremity that further blur the increasingly foggier line between black and death metal. Outre are also shrewd practitioners of the violently deranged dissonance that Blut Aus Nord pioneered, though maniacal string-bends are the weapon of choice here as opposed to whammy pedal assisted racing-car noises.

The seven tracks on offer here are crafted to a high standard, despite the perceived unoriginality. What truly makes Outre stand out for me is that each song has its own identity; it’s far too easy in this subgenre to string soundscapes together under an overarching “theme”, and lesser bands get bogged down in atmosphere. No such accusations here, as each song tells its own story, whilst lending itself to the albums narrative and attempts at creativity.

“Hollow Earth” showcases a relatively young band who are not afraid to try and stand with more experienced peers, and whilst this sophomore effort is not particularly innovative, Outre display a highly quality threshold that rightly earns them mention alongside aforementioned “big boys” of this style. I hope that the new consistent line-up brings a prolific future for their grim sound.

(7/10 Doogz)