Paroxsihzem’s charred, terrifying debut an astonishing display of bizarre power

We can all agree it’s been a miserable week here on the East Coast, right? And I’m not even on the coastal portion — Pittsburgh being a couple hundred miles away from the really bad stuff — but even we had a fairly annoying week with all the wind and rain and outages. Some to the south of us had a pretty bad snowfall. That’s not even scratching the surface of what our friends on the East Coast have dealt with, and we hope everyone is able to pick up and carry on, simplistic as that thought may be.

I sit right by a giant window at work, and all week long I had a bird’s eye view of the muck and dreariness, the miles of traffic backed up because of the poor conditions, and the lousiness of it all. The darkness has made me want music equally as suffocating and agitated, and wouldn’t you know it, almost as if on cue the debut album from Canadian scoundrels Paroxsihzem landed in my inbox. It’s a Dark Descent release, and as you may know by now, I really dig that label because they know what the fuck they’re doing. I assumed awesomeness with this album, and sure enough I was paid many times over for my faith, as this self-titled crusher was just what I needed to match the morbidity in my head.

Formed in Toronto in 2007, this band offered up a couple of full-bodied demo recordings before finally carving out this seven-track, nearly 38-minute opus of chaos. If you’re into bands such as Portal, Mitochondrion, and even Autopsy, you probably can get with this band, whose traits are quite similar. The music is grinding and charred, the vocals are buried a bit, yet still powerfully infernal, and the arrangements sound like a cacophony of madness. But listen closely and you can hear the machination of it all, which is quite impressive. You’ll be required to peel back many layers on this record, but doing so will reward you with a better understanding of everything going on with this mangler. I’ve only had it a week, and I’m totally hooked.

Thematically, Paroxsihzem — vocalist Krag, guitarist Impugnor (also of Nuclearhammer), bassist Orpheus, and drummer The Desolate One (also of Nuclearhammer) — are vague yet focused. They touch upon history, psychology, philosophy, and suicide, but it’s up to you to determine what it’s all about. That’ll require a lyric sheet, something we don’t have as of this writing, but surely what you’ll discover will take some time to sort out in your head.

The record opens with a blurry intro of smeared noises and samples, conjuring an eerie spirit just minutes into this thing. “Vanya” then explodes out of the gates, sounding like blackened death metal burned in a furnace, with ominous vocals, chunky riffs, and a doomy ambiance. “Nausea” may give you just that, with its dizzying pace and churning melodies, and part of the way through there is a thrashy breakdown that rips the lid off the song. Awesome piece of carnage right here. “Deindividuation” is a disturbing mid-way point, with much of the song held up by more creepy voice samples, eventually leading the way to furious growling and a total menace of sound that blankets you with fear.

“Godot” (a Samuel Beckett reference perhaps?) is heavy and grinding from the start, feeling like metal on metal much of the time, and there’s a renewed sense of dread with this one, as it punishes without relent. “Tsirhcitna Eht” has an interesting, rising melody and some really bizarre guitar work that may cause you to tilt your head in confusing. But it’s a penetrating, effective song as well, and it will drub you into submission before too long. Closer “Aokigahara” is both mystical and doom-led, and its title is taken from the Japanese Sea of Trees, a site many go to commit suicide. The song is blurry and foggy, making the vision a bit distorted, though the intent of the song is clear in that you are to suffer internally. It’s a heavy ending to one weighty document.

Paroxsihzem are another astonishing find for Dark Descent, perhaps the most reliable death metal label out there right now. This band is ugly and torturous, the way this style of music should be, and devoting time to Paroxsihzem almost means submitting your energy as well. This record is an excellent late-year find, one that I’m certain is going to stick with me long into the winter months, when depression and solemnity pretty much are a given.

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