Naked lady on cover and no doubt very cold by the looks of it and plenty more uses of the letter v instead ov f, yep AntropomorphiA are back. It seem like only yesterday since we were discussing Sermon Ov Wrath but it has actually been 2 years and the band who took a decade break before they really truly got going no doubt are making up for lost time having released no less than 4 albums in quick succession since 2012. I guess I am guilty of never really taking this Dutch band particularly seriously. There are some groups that really do practice what they preach with their occult leanings and others where it all comes across as a bit “read a book on Crowley and Thelema once” and adopted it for pure entertainment purposes; this lot striking as very much in the latter category. Is that such a bad thing though, we are after all here to be entertained and some of the more esoteric artists do tend to bog you down in cleverer than thou treatises of their beliefs before you even get to the music? The music here is something that I am growing more of an appreciation of having covered the last couple of albums and playing the 2 latest back to back to compare I found myself nodding head along and enjoying more and more.

If you like your death metal with a slice of blackness and brutality but with melody rather than impenetrable concussion inducing ferocity this will no doubt hit the mark. ‘Merciless Savagery’ does pretty much as the title suggests over its 9 tracks and 42 minutes of playing time. As the title track quickly swings into action it is not as merciless as the metal ov death and bestial brigade but it certainly kicks up a groove and a storm. There’s no pissing about here just a well co-ordinated attack that gallops off and cleaves skulls. The drumming is tough as nails, the guitars chunder and churn and the thick low guttural clamour of vocalist Ferry Damen suits the mood with fitting hoary gravity. Songs are snappy, never overstaying welcome and melody is devilishly built to enrapture after repeated listens. Occasionally a sweet and savage solo is flailed out but the pounding from the drums is present throughout the journey, Marco Stubbe putting in a particularly relentless performance. At first I thought this was much more in the death metal camp than the black or blackened death and with the first few numbers there’s little beating about the bush and injecting other elements into things than the rolling savage thunder of death. However things do seep between the cracks and begin to intrude a bit further down the line. The band can’t help titles like ‘Womb Ov Thorns’ and ‘Cathedral Ov Tombs’ and occasionally things strike as workmanlike and as trite as the titles themselves. However they do throw some good hefty morbid angles into their craft and the latter of these two does see the encroaching blackness descend with a doomy laden gravitas and some atmospheric shimmering guitar parts.

Solid and dependable is a good description of what we get here. There are plenty of similar bands out there and AntropomorphiA are in danger of getting buried among them. However they occasionally pull something very special out the bag and as far as I am concerned it is in penultimate track ‘The Darkest Light’ which with its cascading guitar lines and strong sense of identity is an absolutely fantastic number and one I seem to be waiting expectantly on every play through of the album. One listen to this and you are definitely in danger of being hooked. A few more ideas won’t do any harm, I found the backing female choral part on ‘Luciferian Tempest’ adding some other much-welcome dimensions and am I hearing things or is that a bit of woodwind hidden on Behemoth like closer ‘Unsettling Voices’? One thing is for certain, my appreciation for this lot is definitely growing.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)