Ah another band carrying the flag for all things Howard Phillip Lovecraft but this is no normal group even if you have never heard of them before but a bunch of Swedish veterans from the death metal scene. Call them a super-group if you will as that’s pretty much what you have here with assorted Illuminati from bands such as At The Gates, Disfear, Bombs Of Hades, Skitsystem, and God Forbid among others. Do we need any more groups dipping into the crowded Cuthulu mythos and splintering off from their day jobs making yet more music in a world that seems to be on the verge of collapse from the sheer weight of those playing music for what could very much be the approaching end of days? Well yes, if they are of this calibre it appears there is room to squeeze them in.
“Ugly, twisted and possessed” death metal is the order of the day here along with of course, the chill of literary horror from the 1920’s and the soundtracks of fave video nasties. Put it all together and you have the foul essence of this rotting corpse. It should quickly be as easily identifiable as the very story from that master of horror and his stygian universe himself. The title track brings eldritch hues of terror in form of a croaking ominous tone summoning dreadful things from the abyss. Then in an explosion of sound the ‘Vortex Spawn’ are unleashed. There’s no mistaking the coarse barks from frontman Tomas Lindberg who also vomits out plenty of deathly grunts as the big Swede Adrian Erlandsson whacks hell out the kit at the back. As you are getting used to the velocity it slows down and gets into a groove borne on melodic tension that’s full of gibbering terror and melody akin to Necrophagia and Autopsy on a creepy crawl. The slower parts are full of atmosphere but are few and far between, for most of the album we have the players ploughing away hell for leather, taking heads off and slamming away in a fury that will have few remaining standing if the band decide to ever bring things to a pit near you. There is so much head-banging action about venomous numbers like ‘The Starving Gods Of Old’ that it’s difficult keeping up even as a spiralling guitar riff flies out the abyss. There’s definitely something about the d-beat fury of bands such as Skitsyem here and songs are packed with memorable riffs throughout. You will be hard pushed at times not to compare things to At The Gates but these are no mere offcuts from their past glories. Jonas Stålhammar and Fredrik Wallenberg give a formidable dual axe attack that’s simply glorious and when it slows and is tempered by the tolling of doom-laden bells as on ‘The Infernal Dread’ you will certainly get the fear amidst the fury.
It seems as though the band have given themselves a curfew to get as much action into an allotted time-span and the 12 tracks whistle past in a blur but one that is going to have you hitting repeat to play them again as I have been over the last week or so. Retching, gibbering and vomiting all manner of possessed tongues Lindberg puts on a feral performance that sees him at his absolute prime and the musicians behind him really seem equally enthused and unleashed loving the hellish noise they are making here. There’s a bit of creepy piano music just to give you a breather but it doesn’t exactly do that more sending a cold chill down the spine before the next vicious attack. The spiralling melody of ‘Teeth Of The Dark Plains’ and sharp staccato psycho riffs of closer ‘Beneath Menacing Sands’ are two examples that you will no doubt find sticking in the head and burrowing away like worms infecting the brain. There’s no shortage of maggoty meat in between to feast on either ‘The Cold Jaws Of Death’ violently biting hard along with an atmospheric (lurking) voice sample that I can’t quite make out and the melodic hooks of ‘Tongued With Foul Flames’ deserve to be the accompanying soundtrack to a certain episode of Game Of Thrones which everyone is talking about at the moment!
If you are looking for a tumultuous ride on the horns of ‘Winged Death’ you won’t be disappointed in the slightest here. 2017 has been a year of such excellence as far as death metal is concerned (especially the Swedish variety) it’s impossible to keep up. Indeed this one got surely missed on the review pile by others allowing me to snap it up for which I’m very grateful. Don’t make the same mistake and pass over this one or you’ll be kicking yourself too.
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)