PICK OF THE WEEK: Axioma reflect on survival amid pestilence with gargantuan face masher ‘Sepsis’

Photo by Doug French

We have been through hell as humans for quite some time now as we have battled disease never seen before and tried to find ways to survive and keep others safe. Not all of us. You know who you are. But being able to live and thrive in the face of pestilence has been a test for all of us, and the way we have been able to keep moving proves the power of the human spirit.

Cleveland’s Axioma might dabble in the darkest of metallic arts, but they also have noticed the will of the human durability amid the worst of times, and that spills over on their thunderous second record “Sepsis.” The record is named after a life-threatening condition due to the body’s response to infection, and it’s a harrowing, often fatal condition, so fighting through that takes the ultimate in endurance. The band—vocalist/bassist Aaron Dallison, guitarists Cyril Blandino and J Meyers, drummer/percussionist Jon Vinson—steps up their game from their stellar debut “Crown” to unload heavy elements of black metal, doom, and sludge to make for a formidable display that overpowers and pounds into submission.

“Blood Ruminations” trickles in before punching a gigantic hole in the wall, howls defacing everything in its path. The playing coldly moves along as guitars taunt, and the moodiness increases before guitars haunt, and the vocals scrape flesh. Burly power flexes as atmospheric melody peaks, fading into coldness. “Contortions of Passage” opens as a drumming assault as the guitars begin to hypnotize, and then the beast hammers through and stomps with blood lust. Speed becomes a factor and increases your anxiety levels, nasty howls leave ample bruising, and then guitars hang in the air, increasing the barometric pressure. A calculate assault fires up, and the last gasp pummels into the earth. The title track rips in and crushes, blasting hard and teaming with throaty howls and dangerous levels of violence. The friction goes for the throat, black metal-style melodies bleed, and the chaos increases before the final drops are absorbed by the earth.

“God Extraction” starts with clean charges before wrenching wails bristle, and the slurry atmosphere leaves a moisture slick on your face. Nasty howls stretch, guttural power collects, and everything keeps tearing away until the end. “The Tower” is the longest track at 7:31, starting calm and balmy as the track plods along and leaks through the cracks. The riffs begin to get meaner and mostly stay that way as the punishment is meted out with calculated heat, the energy kicking in later and making blood spatter. Hypnotic melodies slither as the bass chugs hard, blasting and rendering the final deadly blows. “Emptiness of Anguish” emerges in sooty doom, moving with a hulking pace as the vocals are like devastating hollers designed to startle. Guitars slur as the fires choke, and the menacing terror they develop drags you into the underworld. Closer “A New Dark Age” brings charging guitars and vocals that compromise your safety, the playing utterly jackhammering. There are threads of dreaminess that help cool off the elevated heat, and blistering tones turn your flesh purple, bringing a final gasp of suffocating power before turning out your lights.

Obviously with a record called “Sepsis,” you’re bound to walk into a world of disease where filth and horrors are around every corner, your very existence called into question. The fact that Axioma continually figure out ways to make the load you’re bearing even heavier and more devastating is a feat to behold. This is a monster of a record that requires repeat visits just so you can properly absorb everything going on, and once you’ve familiarized yourself with this wasteland, you’ll realize you’re now cemented to this reality, and survival is up to your determination to thrive.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://translationloss.com/products/sepsis

For more on the label, go here: https://translationloss.com/