HORRENDOUS - The Chills (DARK DESCENT - CD 2012)
And another very impressive old styled death metal album, which have been released in the past few months and gave the band a much deserved recognition and status of one of the most interesting and promising new acts at the moment. Here is Horrendous. The band made their way through the armies of undead really quickly, releasing just one demo (“Sweet Blasphemies” in 2009) before they got the first album ready and released by Dark Descent in 2012. Dressed in one of the best artworks I’ve seen in the past few months (surely it matches the superb artworks from Morbus Chron and Disma albums), “The Chills” offers us nine songs, closing in 43 minutes, of pure death metal feast. I haven’t heard the demo at all, but the stopgap of three years between it and the debut full length album must have been spent very effectively, as the material from “The Chills” presents us a well developed beast, which left the beginner’s cocoon for good and is now a mature and deadly form of life; one with which you need to confront yourself.
I must say that the opening theme of “The Womb”, which is the first song, got me confused a bit, as this melody on it would really fit the Swedish melodic black metal bands like Dissection and Watain, but that feeling disappears right with the second riff, which is more thrash metal oriented. It turns out that these nine songs offer many really interesting and sometimes unexpected parts, which include also a lot of melodic leads and changes of the atmosphere. Actually the whole “The Chills” brings a wide range of influences, which result in one of the most varied and thus also interesting albums I’ve heard recently. This variety became a strong point of Horrendous’ music, but it would never bring good results if the band wasn’t able to compose good and solid songs. Luckily those three Americans have done an excellent job and their songwriting and musicianship are one of the best I’ve heard around the new wave of young death metal bands. When listening to such tracks as “Ripped to Shreds” or “Fatal Dreams” they do not leave any question marks, it is just as it should be and in many ways the album left me speechless – that great it is.
When saying that there is a wide range of bands, which I think Horrendous was influenced by, I wasn’t trying to be just polite. No, really there are many legendary acts, which I feel have made their mark on Horrendous music. Pestilence is I think the most obvious one. When listening to the guitar leads, some crazy, thrashing and sometimes even bit spacey, psychedelic riffs and even the vocals of Damian Herring (who sounds very much like Patrick Mamelli) – all that makes me think of “Consuming Impulse” and “Testimony of the Ancients”. Then you can clearly find traces of bands like Death or Atheist in many parts, while such “The Ritual” is like a more melodic Autopsy, incorporating a doomier introduction and some sick, disgustingly vomiting vocals, while my favourite song from the whole album – a majestic epic “The Eye of Madness” – sounds like a good old Asphyx, in their best possible style. On top of that I think I can say that “The Chills” may be taking influences also from the good old fashioned heavy and thrash metal – clearly the beginning of “Fatal Dreams” makes me think of “Painkiller” too much hehe!
More so, these three guys turned out to be excellent instrumentalists, especially the guitarists have recorded here some amazing tunes. When listening to “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” for instance I got amazed by the leading play of the guitar, with some almost melancholic, sorrowful and emotional riffs, which sound great, when are played next to angry and bestial death metal. Horrendous also managed to balance these more melodic tunes with straight forward, aggressive playing and “Fleshrot” is the best evidence for it. This is a fierce, relentless attack, which hits you right away when “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” ends. “The Eye of Madness” provides even deeper atmospheric playing, with very doomy riffing and lots of great sounding melodies (actually the one, which opens the song, sounds a lot like Swedish death metal or Amorphis on their first album! – KILLER!!!), while the closing part of it sounds very much like Asphyx, providing a wonderful mournful finish to the whole album. But really, “The Chills” as a whole has a horrendously (hehe) possessing charm and I can hardly resist this album at all. Oh, just listen to Horrendous and see yourself how great are these songs, so well composed and performed and more so, they’re damn memorable. This isn’t simple and unimaginative death metal, but well thought through piece of massacring metal. And despite the fact that I wrote that Horrendous pays a tribute to many old bands, the way they do it on “The Chills” make me think that Horrendous is – I have no hesitation, when writing this – truly original band and one of a kind, which is much welcome and expected, especially in times, when sometimes it gets a bit monotonous to hear dozens of same sounding death metal bands. And the cherry on the top is the powerful, amazingly energetic and clean, crispy but aggressive production…
Yeah, awesome. “The Chills” ticks all the boxes, when describing the perfect death metal album. Fast, brutal parts? Check. Groovy, more doomy parts? Check. Dark atmosphere, sick atmosphere, great leads, some melodies? All check! Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! Definitely this is one of the best death metal albums of past years.
Standout tracks: "The Somber (Desolate Ways)", "The Eye of Madness", "The Womb"
Final rate: 97/100