Wow they are a lot of bands called Invictus! A quick search on Encyclopaedia Metallum unearths 10. Are they all such fans of Matt Damon and rugby I wonder?

This particular Invictus are a three piece Death Metal band from Nagano in Japan and “The Catacombs of Fear“ is their first full length.

The production is muddy and old school. It reminds me of the old tape trading days. Whether this is the aesthetic the band were going for or it is something that budget dictated it works for these guys.

This is chunky thrashy old school death metal full of piss and vinegar, blistering solos as evident on Infernal Covenant and none more Testament chugs as on the intro to the aptly named Lord of the Pit.

This really sounds like those early tapes of Death and Morbid Angel that started coming out in the 80’s that got the tape trading fiends so hot under the bullet belts .  Cascading drums from Haruki Tokutake are underscored by the fetid four strings of Toshihiro Seki who also provides vocals joined by fellow singer and guitarist (and I guess family member) Takehito Seki.

When so much Death Metal is trying to be prog or Steve Vai it is refreshing to hear three lads that just want to shred and lay down filth ridden old school nastiness to snap your neck to.  The three cymbals that usher in “Sinkhole of Ghouls” are decimated by a rampant riff and breakneck drums. The phrasing of the lyrics is great “Slash – ed Crush-ed Defeated. You become beast. “It reminds me of hearing Sepultura for the first time and realising that not every person sings with a cod American or English accents.  This song is a rampant rabbit of a machine!  TO follow it up with a track called “Spawn the Cycle of Putrefaction”? Well Hellllllooo there. Filthy guttural vocals and huge slabs of grim death follow with a cross between early grindcore and bestial black metal in the mix. The drums are a little haphazard but that just adds to the charm and chaos.

Listening to The Catacombs of Fear is like discovering a lost tape that you were sent by a pen pal in Belgium in 1988. It’s like finding something that is old and dusty and discovering that it still sounds fresh, vital and peels the skin off of your face with each manic fret wank and thunderous bassline .

This is what Death Metal was supposed to sound like and thank fuck it still does.

(7.5/10 Matt Mason)