Smothering insanity. That’s probably the best way to describe Shroud of the Heretic in a really quick, to-the-point manner. They’re like a hell storm of locust and other insects swarming toward your town, blackening the sunlight, and promising nothing but misery.
In just a few years as a band, Shroud of the Heretic already have put together an EP “Boiled to Death” two impressive full-length efforts—last year’s eye-opening “Revelations in Alchemy” and their punishing new album “Unorthodox Equilibrium” that we’re here to discuss today. This new record is comprised of four mammoth songs spread out over 42 minutes, and inside the chaos is soot-black death metal that will twist your brain and your insides while experiencing it. It’s like being inserted in the middle of a horrible, oppressive nightmare where you can’t get any measure of control and all you can do is hang on and pray for a modicum of survival.
The band has only been around for the past four years, but they’ve already made a severe impact. Shroud of the Heretic is based in Portland, OR, and they are comprised of bassist/vocalist Thom (Sempiternal Dusk), guitarist JT (Symptom), and drummer Lauren, who have culled a massive amount of chaos and hellish fury into their world. This is impenetrable darkness that hangs overhead and makes you see the true misery and hopelessness of the world. The muck and grime you face is terrifying, but in the best possible way, and when this thing is over there’s no question you’re going to be hurting.
The title cut opens with dark noises wafting and the things being torn completely apart sonically. There is a massive serving of drubbing, with the vocals sounding sooty and infernal and the pace completely sickening. The entire scene is draped in filth, with mucky madness lurking beneath your feet, suffocating intensity riding high, and after a brief period of calm, there’s yet another tear in the Earth’s crust. Colossal damage is done, the vocals rumble, and a bell rings out signaling the carnage is over. “Metempsychosis” starts in serenity, but it’s not long before that’s destroyed. It begins to storm massively all over, with the melodies sounding like a dirge for the universe and the vocals gurgling blood. There is monstrous horror afoot, but also somber, doom-filled guitars, and much of the pace crawls and burns heavily. The back end of the track stomps hard with unforgiving force, while sorrowful melodies return and drag the song into the dark.
“Sprawling Black Mass Consummation” might as well be the way this band’s sound is described, but it’s also the name of this heavy, lurching beast that’s packed with savage punishment. The song goes cold and cosmic, letting cold air blow over and chill your blood, with textured lead lines and eerie sentiments spreading their wings. Just when you think things can’t get more unsettling, the song erupts, ghostly growls pair with strong guitar leads, and a mean, dark smearing absolutely crushes you. Closer “Omega Apeiron” has a really strange, unsettling start, with airy sounds leaking, the drums rattling, and the gates torn open for the band’s ferocious sound to ignite. The growls swarm around you, filling you with fear and anxiety, while the band keeps churning, with terrifying guitar work, a dizzying pace, and doomy carnage making one final push before the song dissolves into a pocket of sweltering noise.
Shroud of the Heretic will grab a stranglehold of your mind and twist you into submission, which isn’t a terrible fate to be honest. “Unorthodox Equilibrium” is a fantastic, crushing death metal record, and it will beat the hell out of you. They’ve been putting out tremendous music for the past few years, and hopefully they get the attention and respect they deserve with this album. This will make your soul feel sick and warped, and hopefully it gives you the dose of true, maddening death metal you deserve.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/shroudoftheheretic
To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/