PICK OF THE WEEK: Succumb warp death and war metal, spill pure terror on crushing debut opus

It’s pretty rare these days to experience a band for the first time and come away wondering if you’ve ever heard anything like it before. Let’s face it, even the most extreme sounds have become fairly homogenized, so it’s hard for unique things to rise even from there. But it’s not impossible to find something new and exciting that actually stands out from everything else.

San Francisco’s Succumb falls into that category of bands that manage to do new things. While their love of death and war metal, and their processing of those elements, is something that has moved other bands, none have done in quite this manner. Having formed in 2014 under the name Cloak, the first seeds of what would become Succumb were planted, leading us to their tremendous self-titled debut record. If you haven’t already started to read things about this band, you should be inundated with stuff soon. Led by darkly charismatic and disarming vocalist Cheri Musrasik, the band charges through seven cuts here that are tough to fully describe. As noted, there are some familiar musical elements, but those are put through Succumb’s grinder and turned into a new form. The rest of the band—guitarist Derek Webster, bassist/vocalist Kirk Spaseff, drummer Harry Cantwell—also add their deranged personality to the songs, as Musrasik howls about topics including BDSM prostitution, autoerotic asphyxiation, dystopia, and every fucked up element of our modern society. It’s scary, unnerving stuff that jabs right at the heart of subject matters most are too afraid to broach within their own dark secrets, much less their art. Succumb smear it like blood across your mouth and face, with Musrasik leading the charge with her bizarre howls.

“The Initiate” begins the record, a quick instrumental track that opens and smothers, with guitars swirling, and the first taste of mucky death served. “Destroyer II” is the first real glimpse of the band at full power, as the tempo devastates and creates smoke so thick, you’ll choke. Musrasrik’s wild howl clashes with guttural growls, which could turn your guts, while the music has strains of hardcore laced into its death terrain. The pace sludges and drops heavy weights, while the back end has a nauseous, dizzying feel. “Bedchambers” has blunt force and voices spilling into tornadic winds. The madness is filled with aggravation and perversity, while the black thrashing grinds away at your swelling senses. “Survival” shows off the band’s hefty Voivod worship, as tricky, spacey guitars launch an assault, adding strange beams of light to their sprawling fury. There is a dark cartoonish quality to the melody, like you’re watching an animated smoke cloud twist into oblivion, and later, the reverb-rich howls and sci-fi-leaning guitars take you out of your mind and into a cosmic zone.

“Seeding” is the longest track at 7:23, blasting in with Musrasik’s fierce cries and the music boiling. Gravelly growls and sinewy riffs conjoin and form a wall of muscle, while the track keeps getting uglier and more unhinged. Growls rumble while the track thrashes away, and the whole thing ends in an ugly, dank basement where water drips and pools and noises scrape. “Coal Dark Earth” is a death assault from the start, with thick basslines roiling and Musrasik ripping out and heading toward your throat. The guitars form a wind-whipping storm, while the pace slams the gas pedal, and echo-laden shouts bring the song to a close. Closer “The Flood” starts with pianos trickling before a hole is torn into the body of the song, and pure devastation is launched. The pace slashes, while the guitars wander into darker corners at times, and the bloody growls and pained yells leave their final blistering, while the song comes to a monstrous climax.

Succumb are one of the most dangerous, yet exciting new bands in metal this year, and their self-titled debut is one that’s bound to stick in listeners’ sides as the year goes on. I’ve heard this album countless times now, and I can’t shake this thing no matter how familiar I get with the music. That makes my blood go cold and my insides shake, which is how I know I’ve come across a band that’s etched itself in my brain and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/succumbsf/

To buy the album, go here: http://nowflensing.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://theflenser.com/