Heavy metal, eh? She’s a queer old mistress, I reckon. I’ve been into metal as my primary musical love since I can remember, and she’s got so much to offer. Sometimes, I need to hear her in her most complex forms; time-changes and weird, highly technical musical passages. On occasion, I like to hear the bright optimism and clear tones of power metal, or the post-pubescent rage of thrash. Then, on other days – like today: a dark, dismal hungover Sunday – I need what she offers through Coffins. Primal, primitive bludgeon. No frills, no gimmicks and no apologies. Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to “Beyond the Circular Demise”.
For those of you not in the know, this is the fifth full length album from the Japanese primitivists. Often labelled a death-doom band, (though this is not what I will say), Coffins have a singular vision for their sludge soaked, sinister caveman metal. Not quite Autopsy, not quite Celtic Frost and not quite early-Death, Coffins straddle all of this atavistic, route-one metal and add their own flair. From the first track, “Terminate by own Prophecy” – a song which essentially sounds like someone playing out-takes from “Morbid Tales” while using left over gear and studio time from Carcass circa “Symphonies of Sickness”, you know you’re in for a great listen. Coffins might well have the kind of production that has drums that sound like wet cardboard boxes being slapped with kippers, and layers of down-tuned guitars that make the likes of Fu Manchu sound like Dragonforce, but you combine this with absolutely killer song-writing and atmosphere, and you’ve got a winner.
“Beyond the Circular Demise” isn’t out to massively bust open the Coffins paradigm; it is essentially a collection of eight more songs in their trademark style. I’m completely fine with that. Those that complain that this shows a lack of invention on their part are the same kind of people that complained that Motorhead albums always sounded the same (and of course, they didn’t!). Yes, this is a subtle (but perceptible) improvement over 2013’s “The Fleshland”, but then that was a winning formula to begin with. Here, the doom elements are more to the fore – “Impuritious Minds”, if you stripped out the production and Jun Tokita’s horrifying vocals could, for the most part be ripped straight from a Reverend Bizarre album. Elsewhere, mid-tempo stompers like “Insane” have that kind of infectious low-end rumble and catchy riff work that makes it destined to become a minor classic for the band.
When it comes to the low end, ugly, sick blunt-force trauma of extreme metal, it’s hard to beat Coffins, and that has arguably never been more the case than it is for this release. Having listened to it through decent headphones and my hi-def stereo set up extensively over the last three weeks, I’m still astounded that something so filth-laden and grotty can have so much depth. Hats off to the production on this beast; it must be a devil of a job to keep the rumble and chaos at bay for long enough to have a decent sound at the end of it.
Excellent, crusty, slow and deathly. Just like my coffee.
(8.5/10 Chris Davison)