Death dealers Sepulchral Curse create quaking fury on massive debut album ‘Only Ashes Remain’

I’m running out of shit to do, man. I’m sure I’m not alone. This not being able to go anywhere weighs on you, even though it’s the right thing to do, but mentally it’s very taxing realizing you live in a very specified space, and the amount of activities available just chews at every nerve ending and sends you into a spiral of madness.

Death metal and doom are things that strangely keep me sane, and Finland’s Sepulchral Curse had a huge hand in keeping my mind in one piece the past few weeks. Their debut full-length album “Only Ashes Remain” had a huge part in keeping my mind engaged the past few weeks, a perverse thing to admit about a record that essentially is looking to dismantle anything it encounters. If you’re a huge fan of Finnish death and doom—and aren’t we all?—prepare to embrace these seven tracks and 45 minutes in a way that’ll keep your heart blackened, and not just from the events of this year. The band—vocalist Kari Kankaanpää , guitarists Jaakko Riihimäki and Aleksi Luukka, bassist Niilas Nissilä, and drummer/vocalist Tommi Ilmanen—have plied their trade in other well-respected groups such as Yawning Void and Solothus, but here, they unleash a completely different portal into hell and drag you along kicking and screaming.

Fin”From Within the Bowels of the Earth” opens grinding away as Kankaanpää’s animalistic howls jar, and the leads cut through the midsection. The growls and shrieks mix as melody rampages, the band pummels you, and bursts of all different colors emerge as the rampage smashes toward the doors. “Swarming Blackness” is deadly right away as the track fires up and the growls scrape through the mashing assault. Shrieks rip out as the cymbals are crushed, the band hits a thrashy cycle, and the leads get into full command before the track disappears. “Into the Depths Unknown” crushes out of the gates while Kankaanpää’s vocals revel in brutality, and the guitars mangle your brains. Strong leads trudge while the guitars stampede, with the entire atmosphere of the song feeling like a million pounds of pressure on your chest as you struggle to gasp for air.

“Eyes Inside” simmers while the pace takes on a calculated pace, and the growls work their way into your mind. The shrieks burst as the guitar work sets the challenge, the pace trembles, and everything is put through the shredder. The vocals return to death grunts, the playing is burly, and everything is pounded into dust. “Church of Loss” slurs while thunderous drums loosen bricks before the playing quickens in a hurry. The guitar works spirals while Kankaanpää seemingly gurgles blood delivering his words while a thick humidity arrives, and the track bleeds off into chaos. “Dead Stars Drawing Spirals” grinds away as the growls and shrieks tangle, and the guitars hit the gas pedal. The absolute doom of humankind is envisioned while meaty death rains down, the growls bubble, and the leads light up. The leads unravel and usher in madness before the violence increases to the finish. “Maan Tuhkien Uneen” ends the record, and at 11:04, it’s the longest track on here. Low-end hiss arrives as beastly lurching gets under way, and the brutality is devastating. Nasty wails dizzy while the steady pace breaks bones, and lava slowly oozes from the cracks. The heaviness increases as the song goes on, and the shrieks temper while the playing gains steam, working into a heavy storm that sizzles in the atmosphere, bringing everything to an echo-ridden finish.

Sepulchral Curse’s debut is a steady, punishing slab of death metal and doom that hulks across the earth, bringing with it broken bones and devastated wills left in their wake. “Only Ashes Remain” is a crusher of a record that refuses to relent over its 45 minutes, and it carries with it astonishing promise for a band that’s best days are actually ahead of them. It’s an earthquaking first step that’ll leave every inch of you bruised and in total submission.

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