Death Metal is by the very nature of its name linked to all things repugnant. Yet does this always have to come from cascading slasher style shock value? Arguably no, the genre may have been well rounded and defined by these bloody traits but there are also striking links to anti-christian morals coming from some of the genres forefathers, Deicide and Morbid Angel most notably. So really Death Metal has acted with a diversity of extremity from its birth, even very early examples such as Possessed are not delicately linked to blood and violence but rather an outspoken means of sonic torment.
Leaving some of the more comical, for lack of a better word elements to one side are the Portland based Death Metallers Ossuarium. Having formed in 2016 they represent a fresh face on the scene having only one demo behind them along with a split with the savage Dragkhar who’s 2018 EP received much praise from myself. With a steady output the band have found themselves in the lap of 20 Buck Spin, an ever reliable label. Thus with this signing the band present their debut full length untitled Living Tomb.
The Intro this this album is extremely short and ultimately serves no purpose, further adding to my opinions on the useless nature of such tracks. In a sense it may conjure images of dank mould ridden chambers of a tomb as the album’s title suggests, but this grim picture is quickly painted through the decaying body of the album. Our first exposure to the festering Death Metal is Blaze Of Bodies which can only be described as ultimately cavernous, there is a huge riff heavy sense about this Death Metal opus that draws significance and apt influence from Doom Metal. There is a sure hit of inspiration from bands such as Incantation and Tomb Mold and equally I see this as a progressive album, not in terms of genre but in terms of historical importance. This sort of hideous lifeless Death Metal is much like a representation of Death Metals rot throughout the ages, this is not to mark Death Metal as a dwindling genre but rather to personify its natural putrefaction.
The beauty of this release comes through its more devastating passages in tracks like Vomiting Black Death, Corrosive Hallucinations and End Of Life Dreams And Visions Pt.2. Much like last years release from Corpsessed this album relies heavily upon its more epic moments which in turn makes for some truly inspirational listening. The thick gloopy guitars drone through making way for gargling bass tones, dissonant drums and spectral vocals. A package sealed within an iron coffin that when released fills our senses with disgust and at the same time intrigue. There is also a note of melody within particularly the aforementioned epics which lends a hand to musical prowess and memorability. Yet these passages are not overbearing and don’t serve as a weakness to the collectively true Death Metal within.
Ossuarium may not be treading new soiled waters but they follow in the footsteps of their idols with great success. Living Tomb is an album perhaps better appreciated by the more seasoned listener, a further brick in the crypt wall of Death Metals fester and eventual rebirth. To call the album trendy would be laughable but there is a certain notion of fad about it. Previously I mentioned the mighty Incantation who have for many years given to this brand of cavernous Death Metal, they are by no means new but it would seem that there has been a strange uprising in this sound in recent years. However it gives more breath to the corpse of Death Metal and that is something I am thankful for, Living Tomb may not strike a chord in the same way as some of its predecessors but it still lights the torch upon the grime stained walls of the mausoleum of Death Metal.
(7/10 George Caley)