December Roundup: Hyperdontia, Unleashed, Sulphurous, Lord of Pagathorn & Necromonarchia Daemonum
From the black mouth of your sepulchre emanates the dry breath of the tomb and as I stand mesmerized by its wafting, the shadows begin writhing like black wings around me. Furiously I glare to dispel them, to no avail, trying to see beyond. Gazing. Into the patch of darkness, the walls of Hadri-anus close in.
Hyperdontia – Hideous Entity
When Hyperdontia‘s new single “Snakes of Innards” dropped, I can’t say I was a man thrilled. It is by no means a bad song, but since Nexus of Teeth, the band had taken leaps and besides Tuna’s constantly improving drumming these improvements seemed to lack. A forgettable song couldn’t be saved by a good idea.
While the opener is one of the lesser songs on Hideous Entity, the same is true for much of it. Make no mistake—it is a good album. Chock full of good riffs and good arrangements, the thrashier sections, solos and bass leads bring a variety to the songwriting set on building intensity rather than ripping faces from the onset. While the album likewise tries to up the ante as it progresses, I feel it peaks a little early at “Lacerated and Bursting”, and while “A Wretched Mockery of Creation” is a good song in its own right, “Impervious Veil” is a downright tepid closer. The melodic opening and clean-picked closing are straight out of a textbook but the distance between doesn’t correlate with the idea of a grande finale.
Changing places with the mid-album ‘breather’ “Beast Within”, a similarly built track in which the ideas seem less glued together, would’ve done wonders for the album’s general feel but tracking isn’t the limit of Hideous Entity’s issues. The truth of it is, the proper place to add the word ‘great’ into the sentence “songs with riffs and ideas” would be as the third, and not as the first, word.
Of the two Hyperdontia albums, Hideous Entity is the better one, and I know that my partial dislike of it is due to, well, not exactly disappointment and not quite expectations but something where the two meet. And for the late year release fatigue. In time I know I will come to like it more, but just how long that time will be remains to be seen.
Unleashed – No Sign of Life
Unleashed has been around for a long time and has released… a number of albums. I doubt even the band recalls all of them at this point. Not the least because not many besides the band have cared beyond the second, outside the fact it gives them a decent excuse to resume touring and at least not play 100% the same set. Although some hits like “Death Metal Victory” have originated on the later records, most recently the group has managed a string of decent records you wouldn’t mind raising your pint to several songs from at a gig.
Unfortunately that sort of comes to an end with the prophetically named No Sign of Life. “The King Lost His Crown” serves as a fine enough opener, following the semi-grandiose and melodic path many of their later set-staples are built on, “The Shepherd Has Left the Flock” has surprisingly busy leadwork for the band and Johnny “Entombed only exists because the Nihilist guys were too cowardly to just kick me out” Hedlund sounds more like he’s speaking than growling but still hasn’t entirely lost his charismatic delivery.
Honestly, No Sign of Life sounds very much like the last three or 4 Unleashed records, not that any of them are strikingly different after the first few, but noticeably more tired and stale, unable to properly catch the spark that made their regurgitation at least beer-enjoyable before. If you ever “accidentally” wander into one of their shows, I’m sure a number of these will please you as much as any other songs, but these ones need the classics to hold them.
Sulphurous – The Black Mouth of Sepulchre
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Hyperdontia, Phrenelith, Diabolizer, Septage and Sulphurous each have released something this year, and each share members—though technically Malik serves as a session member here.
The lattermost has kept closely to the trail beat by its predecessor, but also made clear improvements. Nowhere a single, big one mind you, but a little bit of tinkering literally everywhere makes The Black Mouth of Sepulchre meaner, if not quite leaner than the debut.
The band balances between simple ideas and intricate arrangements, as variations are rather more plentiful than repetitions and underneath the tremolo-picked lines lie thrashier riffs and classier solos than before and the drums seem to keep to a flow instead of a set beat.
Many of the same things could be said for many of the related projects new albums’ as well, but somehow Sulphurous never gets mixed up with them too much. Can’t quite tell you why they bothered to hire a session bassist this time around though as there doesn’t seem to be much anything going on in that department here, and they were well-equipped to handle the parts on their own before.
Lord of Pagathorn – Age of Curse
One of those Finnish black metal bands that was active for a few years in the ’90s, and again for the last 11 years, Lord of Pagathorn has kept a fair pace since their return. Age of Curse is their third full-length, and first since renewing their rhythm section.
Frantic performances and sharp vocals work in Lord of Pagathorn’s favour and the clear, balanced mix brings out all the nuances while the riffs, sometimes thrashing, often melodic, occasionally ponderous and at times even quirky, can hardly be blamed for monotony.
Not every riff hits home as hard though. “Prophecy of Androgyne Being” feels like it’s missing half a gear and “Insatiability of Man” leans too hard on a single idea. But neither are bad songs, not enough to bring Age of Curse down a notch anyways. Synths have been sprinkled throughout but their use is minimal and only to underline key moments. They don’t add much anything to be sure, but are hardly detrimental either.
There’s something though that doesn’t quite feel right. It’s as if vocalist/guitarist Corpselord decided to revamp his writing style—I mean, all of the songs are still in the same vein, but it’s as if it’s a different pen drawing towards the same concept. Regardless, Age of Curse is a step-up from the evenly dull Daimono Philia and a welcome addition to the canon.
Necromonarchia Daemonum – Anathema Darkness
WIth origins somewhere deep in the soil that birthed the very experimental Swedish black/avant-noise group Abruptum, the Finnish Necromonarchia Daemonum is one of very few to consistently walk the path trod by the Swedish cult.
Between the lengthy intro and outro, only one, massive song lies. “Plagued Soil the Eucharists of the Goddess of Death” may flirt with the idea of later Abruptum with its sheer mass, but the material is more akin to the early days of the project, before Morgan Håkansson took over it.
The base of the sound is in very raw black/doom and primitive as all hell, loosely arranged and played, almost certainly improvised in part, but definitely not altogether. The vocals are an unintelligible gurgling noise and Anathema Darkness sounds like it was recorded at the duo’s rehearsal place with very few mics and as live as possible.
The abuse of eccentric keyboard lines that finishes the madness at hand is similar to Goatprayer’s Ceremonial Torture solo project, but far less medieval or meditated. Though Anathema Darkness gets very cacophonous at times, it’s still very riff-based at its core and I can’t help but to stand in awe of the material.