Superstition deliver guttural death metal savagery on vicious debut ‘… Unholy Transformation’

Horror and devastation should be a given when digging into most death metal records. They are the initial ingredients that baked up this horrible stuff some three decades ago, and they remain vital components that keeps this creative havoc in the underground to this day.

Rumbling out of Santa Fe, NM, come Superstition, a band hellbent on keeping the basic tenets of death metal vital and killing, and the display they put on with debut record “The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation” is one that helps strengthen the line from Morbid Angel, Death, and Autopsy to the current and keeps that foundation as putrid and bloody as humanly possible. Bringing with them hellish experience in other bands including Predatory Light, Vanum, and Ash Borer, this unit—guitarist/vocalist L.S., guitarist/keyboard player K.M., bassist D.J., and drummer D.M.—grab handfuls of your brain matter and just twist and chew on them. Over nine tracks that run an ideal 34:20 in length, the band keeps traditional death violent and hammering, which should please any fan of the genre whether they caught on in the 1990s or just came along recently.

“Unholy Transformation Pt. 1” opens the record, a quick instrumental starter built by eerie synth, lurching growls, and monstrous weirdness that pulls right into “Highly Attuned Beasts of the Dark,” where things get off to a fiery beginning. The band lands multiple punches, with LS howling, “Under death’s standards march the rotten hordes, unrepentant.” Leads swim through the crazed pace with the sounds bending and the track spitting broken teeth. “Spiritual Sunderance” has leads fluttering before a nasty neck-jerking pace arrive, and the vocals are utterly savage as LS wails, “The banal pleasures of decay enraptured, pierced by manifold eyes, succor the afflicted with ample rot, like grief suspended in spheres of agony.” The pace gets slurry and disorienting in spots, but everything hits full throttle again, with the song ending in a power blast. “Unholy Transformation Pt. II” is a quick interlude that feels icy and strange, making your flesh crawl as it works its way into your mind.

“Passage of Nullification” has distorted leads, ample crunch, and the growls cutting through flesh and bone, leaving blood spatter. The playing is smothering in spots, with the leads exploding, the pace stomping, and the track fading out. “Torn in the Outer Lands” has riffs attacking and aggravate growls, as LS cries, “Fast in the fire, torn in the outer lands, glutted on gods, extinguished.” The playing causes disorientation and dizziness, while the soloing blares and switches off, letting its assault makes its way into and through your chest cavity. “Unreclaimed Blood (Phantom Swan)” bursts open with the guitars going for broke, mangling growls adding to the blood spill, and relentless chugging crushing you and leaving you gasping for air. Soloing screams out, the band fires up, and the track comes to a blistering end. “Unholy Transformation Pt. III” is the final interlude, a spooky synthscape that brings cosmic terror, setting the stage for closer “Charnel Pleasures” that’s the longest song of the bunch at 7:21. The track is a smasher from the start, an ideal album ender where the band goes for broke. Growls echo in the madness while the thrashing devastates, doomy gusts block out the sun, and insane soloing rips through sanity and time, as the band fires up for a big finish before a sound funeral washes over the end.

Superstition’s to-the-grindstone brand of death metal is traditional and exciting, a crushing experience from front to back when you take on “The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation.” Even though they remain true to the roots, this band also isn’t regurgitating anyone else’s vibe or sound. They have their very own that’s overwhelming and punishing, and each second of this record is here to bring annihilation and waves of panic.

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