I’ve never been through a massive earthquake (yet!), but I’ve experienced some minor ones. This is not a complaint, by the way. But I’d imagine if I ever was in one that was tearing the earth apart, it might remind me of how I felt the first time I experienced French beasts Subterraen, who feel like a seismically vital addition to the annals of doom.
“Rotting Human Kingdom” is their entrance into my consciousness, and holy shit, if this four-track, nearly 49-minute crusher didn’t crush me, at least metaphorically. Really, it’s three mammoth cuts and one interlude, so it should be clear that they set up shop and stay a while, with you as their willing victim. In all seriousness, this is prime sludge-splashed doom, a record that feels ugly and weighty, and filthy at the same time, and if you love this style like I do, it’ll be a revelation to you. The band—vocalist/guitarist Clem Helvete, guitarist Chris KKP, drummer Milvus—provides no mercy as the record is gargantuan and makes it feel like what a full-fledged earthquake might be like.
“Blood for the Blood Gods” slowly emerges over the horizon like a beast of destruction as the playing swirls and sickens, growing larger before the doom drops. The track pounds away with precision as the low end chews, noise rises, and a violent eruption spews earth into the sky. The shrieks send icy shivers as the playing grows cold and hazy, bathing in a thick fog you practically can taste before the track gushes again. Melodies deliver dour hell while the vocals rip apart guts, and burly pain gathers before the track finally relents. “For a Fistful of Silver” lathers in steam before the chaos arrives, as the band stomps over the earth. Vocals pierce the skin as noise hangs in the air, and the drums rumble heavily, ushering in waves of anguish. From there, the playing gallops heavily, agitating fires and moving into pulverizing feedback as the pressure mounts. Clobbering force breaks through as everything goes cold, and nighttime swallows the daylight forever.
“Oceans are Rising” is a quick instrumental that swims in frigid waters as the guitars lightly coat your face with mist, draining away into a strange pocket. “Wrath of a Downtrodden Planet” is the closer and the longest track here, clocking in at 18:20. Doom just levels everything as the growls follow and destroy, letting hellish cries creep up on you. The bass buzzes as the bottom drops out, and fiery hell makes its way across the earth and leaves blackened soil behind. The track bruises slowly, making you feel each drop of lava, while the track cuts into bone. The leads begin to glimmer, setting off blinding light, while vile growls spread, and doom waylays, leaving you buried face first in the ground.
Doom is not meant to be pretty, and Subterraen have no intentions of changing that idea on “Rotting Human Kingdom,” a record that basks in relentless heaviness. Everything here feels like you’re going through a battle in a heat-soaked terrain where the sun is just as big an enemy as your combatants, and it feels like your body is going through the ringer physically. This is a powerful record from a band that only has its worst intentions at heart and just might tear the world in two.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/subterraen
To buy the album (North America), go here: https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/
Or here (international): https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.de/shop-en
For more on the label, go here: https://tometal.com/