Having a tenacity and fury that’s practically physically tangible is a rarity in metal these days, which is really sad. When the seeds first were planted for death, thrash, and black metal, every band sounded like they meant every ounce, and you wondered if you met some of those people in a dark alley if you’d survive. Yeah, it was mostly fantasy thinking, but those bands made me think that way, and now most of them don’t.
But sometimes you come across a band like Norwegian death maniacs Obliteration, and you get that feeling of danger all over again. They practically explode from your speakers or headphones, like they’re carrying weapons along with the instruments, and that they could maim you at any moment. Would they? They’re called Obliteration. How perfect is that? The band has a savage essence to themselves, a raw hunger, and an untamed, heathen approach that you can feel deep inside yourself. Over the course of three records, they’ve brought back an animalistic quality that’s faded away from so many parts of metal, and their new record “Black Death Horizon” is one that grabs you by the throat and forces you to pay attention to them and adhere to their campaign. It is infectious.
This fiery new document is so devastating that it has two labels behind it. Always reliable Indie Recordings is handling the release in Europe, while the mighty Relapse is putting the record out in America, which should give them a big boost domestically. If you’re new to the band, think of the finer points of Hellhammer, early Celtic Frost, Aura Noir, and Darkthrone, and you’ll have pretty good grasp of what to expect. Yet nothing can fully prepare you for Obliteration, because reading about them and actually experiencing this crew of maulers are totally different things.
Obliteration are made up of four Nords with blood on their lips and ill intent in their hearts. Sindre Solem is on vocals, and his maniacal delivery sounds like he was unleashed from a life in the wild. He’s an insane person with his heinous growls and shrieks, and his work is one of the major reasons this record is so good. Joining him in this madness are guitarist Arlid Myren Torp, bassist Didrik Telle, and drummer Kristian Valbo. All four members are veterans of other bands, but they bring their thunderstorming best to “Black Death Horizon.”
Opener “The Distant Sun (They Are the Key)” takes a little bit to get off the ground, but that’s because the guys are building a chilling mood, with guitars churning slowly, Solem’s shouts lurching from his mouth. But then the track catches fire, gallops, and destroys, with the crazed shrieks scorching the earth as the band metes out its punishment. “Goat Skull Crown,” a track released earlier in the year on an EP of the same name, is dangerous and fast from the start, building the fury and tension, and making your blood boil. There are eerie moments, a section of chant-like singing that you wouldn’t want to hear at night while you’re outside alone, and a molten, crushing finish that ends things on the right note. “Transient Passage” is a fun one and is feverishly haunting, with doomy slime rolling down the walls, and boiling guitars creating an impenetrable haze. Of course, there’s plenty of bloodshed as well, as the playing grows more rabid and angry, and the track has a tasty old school metal vibe that warms my heart while it’s strangling it. “Ascendance (Sol Invictus)” opens with a razor-sharp guitar assault reminiscent of early Slayer, when you still believed the devil was their primary influence, and that swarm grows heavier and more destructive as the song builds. Solem goes off again, sounding like a man unhinged, and the band matches his intensity with channeled playing and blazing soloing.
“Sepulchral Rites” will make any Tom G. Warrior fan smile with Solem’s opening “oooh,” and the track feels like it crawled out of a dusty crypt buried in 1985, here to spread its pestilence in the modern era. The band totally kills here, whipping up the black thrash and dark spirits, and when the song fades into dust at the end, you’ll be looking over your shoulder waiting for it to return. The title cut rages for 7:40 and spills more tarry doom blood onto the floor for them to track everywhere. The pace is fast and relentless, slashing through the ages back to when death metal and thrash were at their screaming infancies, and yet again, Solem is there to drive home the message in an unstable a manner as possible, bringing back that though they these guys might really mean to do you harm. As this pit of war draws to a close after a thunderous finish, a bed of noise drizzles into the finale, and an instrumental called “Churning Magma” starts off with a flurry of finger tapped guitar like some evil Eddie Van Halen is at work. Then the song divides into two weird pieces running alongside each other, with the bottom half mucky and brutal, and the guitars hovering and making black magic over top of the rest. It’s a spooky ending to the record, and an unexpected one that leaves you woozy and disoriented.
So, if you’re finding your faith is fragile when it comes to the current state of metal, have no fear. Bands like Obliteration are here to inject a dark, evil spirit back into the music you love and might even scare the hell out of you with their wavering psyches. “Black Death Horizon” bring me back to my impressionable youth, when I learned of fiery, scary new bands while I was listening walking through the woods, waiting for them to jump from behind a tree to slay me. It’s not easy to suspend disbelief these days, but Obliteration get me damn close.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/obliterationofficial
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/
Or here: http://www.indierecordings.no/