Sempiternal Dusk return from shadows with doomy terror on cavernous death pit ‘Cenotaph…’

There are a lot of bands out there promising you their record is vile, nasty, disgusting, a true walk into death. And many of them tell the truth. Others like to talk the talk, but when it comes down to tackling their records, they’re heavy and all, but you don’t feel like they actually mean it. You wonder if they’d even be able to stare the chaos they boast in the face.

Then there’s Portland-based doom/death scoundrels Sempiternal Dusk who never would steer you wrong and prove that over and over again on their massive new record “Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation.” Five years since the making of their self-titled debut, this band is back to demonstrate that morbidity runs in their veins, and they’re not about to pull back on the horrors just so you can walk away in one piece. On this six-cut, nearly 37-minute beating, the band—vocalist/drummer TC and guitarists JH and VB—continually slam your skull into the ground and slowly rub your face in a combo of your own blood and mud, making you feel the infection in each scrape. This is not an easy listen, as you’re meant to suffer, but that’s what you should want. The band delivers in spades, making every ounce of this thing hurt like hell.

“Caverns of Aural Decay” starts the record as a brief lead-in track built with cavernous noise, simmering keys, and eerie rumbling that makes its way toward 10:20-long beast “Excavated Filth From Dimensional Incarnations,” where the ground crumbling continues. The playing is morbid and furious at first before it settles into its torturous slow-mauling pace that bloodies the entire record. Furious pounding and miserable growls from TC set in as the carnage is laid out before you and spread generously. The beating continues as the leads work their way into the fire, opening a cavern to murk. The growls increase their hold while the drums cave in everything left standing, and the track comes to a muddy finish. “Orgiastic Feast Upon Martyred Flesh” is doomy and ugly when it arrives and begins defacing your psyche. Smudgy playing backs up hissing growls, while the band utterly clobbers you. Guitars smear soot all over your face and into your mouth, while the grime increases as the song goes on. You’re dragged into hell for your punishment while the death growls boil, only to be given brief solace by the acoustics that end the track and let you fade into unconsciousness.

“Beneath the Emblems of Death” is a quick jolt at 1:11, but it’s hardly an interlude. The 71 seconds of complete death annihilation is crushing and violent, pouring buckets of blood. “Refracted Suffering Through the Windows of Hell” sounds like the sentence I just wrote, but it’s a slow mauler, as the cymbals are assaulted, and creepy growls move into your vision. From there, it’s total war as the bass lines thicken and wrap around your throat, the track explodes and sends shards of glass, and things rest in a pile of ash. “Spears of Pestilence” ends the record, and at 10:46, it’s the beefiest thing on here. The music bleeds in from another dimension, slithering in after you, crushing bones and muscle. You practically can feel the growls rumbling in your chest, exacting psychological damage before the pace switches, and we’re into thrashing combine blades. The track lays waste to whatever lies in its way, as the growls swim through the filth, the leads glimmer briefly in the dark, and the music drowns in buckets of its own blood and guts.

Sempiternal Dusk’s five-year pause between full-lengths led to a massive amount of anticipation for “Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation,” and this beast absolutely pays off all of that excitement. It’s truly a journey into sickness and depravity the way so many other bands claim to deliver but only do so superficially. Here, you’re dragged into the chain pit and beaten within an inch of your miserable life.

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