Though the band name (Latin for “waste”) and album title may suggest otherwise, Vastum should not be mistaken for a trivial faecal-obsessed comedy grindcore act.

Reasonably prolific since their 2009 inception, this Bay Area death metal quintet went suspiciously quiet after the release of their third album in 2015. Bouncing back last year with a split release alongside Spectral Voice, they now unleash a fourth album jammed with the kind of deliberate mid-tempo chugging riffs that fans of Bolt Thrower, Incantation and Autopsy will be familiar with.

Vastums penchant for sinister tremelo-picked riffs and doomy chug-a-long passages provide a thick, dense and cavernous atmosphere throughout the album. However, the tone and clarity of the guitars ensure that whilst bordering on the suffocating, “Orificial Purge” never becomes so dense as to be impenetrable, and the hooks woven into each composition keep the listener grounded. The drumming is also noteworthy of praise, with novel fills providing additional flavour to the ploddy mid-pace nature of most of these songs.

The vocal delivery is primarily guttural and low register in nature, nonetheless with sufficient clarity to interpret the lyrics, indulging the listener in disturbing subject matter such as sexual abuse and self-mutilation. In particular, autophagia (the art of eating oneself) rears its head on “Reveries In Autophagia”, whilst final track “His Sapphic Longing” deals with an individual who finds themselves trapped in a cycle of abuse and abusiveness. This final track also adds a second vocalist employing a Schuldiner-esque shrieking response to Daniel Butlers guttural calls.

A couple of the songs here would benefit from trimming the length a little. Whilst the riffs and ideas are doubtless they marginally outstay their welcome, particularly on the opening two tracks “Dispossessed in Rapture (First Wound)” and “I on the Knife (Second Wound)”.

Despite their short absence from the scene, the band have become suitably influential in their own right; those championing Tomb Mold of late would do well to check out not only this album, but Vastums back catalogue too. Whilst it’s not quite on par with 2015s “Hole Below”, “Orifiical Purge” is still a consistent and solid atmospheric death metal album that makes for equally intriguing and uncomfortable listening.

(7/10 Doogz)