PICK OF THE WEEK: Pestilent Hex streak black metal with drama, hell on ‘The Ashen Abhorrence’

Image by Kammio Visuals

We’re in the midst of what’s supposed to be the summer blockbuster movie season, something that was heavily damaged by the pandemic the past few years and really hasn’t recovered to the level it used to be. This is the time when all the huge and dynamic pictures are in theaters over the summer, and it’s not that long ago that you used to get a massive new movie or two every week. It was wild.

While it’s not something you’re going to see on the silver screen, Pestilent Hex have something that might be the audio version of a massive adventure with “The Ashen Abhorrence,” their debut record. This Finnish band that combines vocalist/lyricist M. Malignant (Desolate Shrine, Convocation) and multi-instrumentalist L. Oathe (Corpsessed, Tyranny) explodes into cinematic, symphonic black metal that remind of the era of when this style came to be. It’s not overdone, it doesn’t sound like a Disney score, and it does drive a dagger into the heart of black metal from three decades ago and drinks deeply from its veins. Each of these six chapters sweep over you and makes for an enthralling journey, one that deserves multiple visits, like a film you see so many times, you know it off by heart.

“Chapter I: The Ashen Abhorrence” opens the sojourn by rupturing peace and delivering vile force, pushing through elegance and mysticism. The symphonic aura explodes as the band pulverizes your senses, strange cackling pours salt in the wounds, and keys wash through to add more color to the tangling finish. “Chapter II: Nature of the Spirit” blasts in and takes over like a raging storm seeking to soak the earth. Shrieks creak, and a sweeping chorus knocks you for a loop, pushing you into tangling madness that blisters the flesh. Keys wash down, the humidity builds, and your mind begins to tingle, blasting through animalistic shrieks and hammering terror. “Chapter III: Mephistophelean Liaison” dawns as darkness unfolds before the playing makes a tear through your mid-section. The keys flood with fury as a zany pace picks up, the shrieks gutting as the melodies gain momentum. Morbid and daring, gargantuan wails make seismic impact, speed boils, and everything ends in a surge.

“Chapter IV: Interlude – Mists of Oneiros” brings eerie noises and keys trickling, feeling like a classic King Diamond interlude to get your imagination flowing. “Chapter V: Old Hag” churns as the punches land, and clean lines mix into the bloodstream and become flammable. Violent insanity storms as the sophisticated design unfurls, taking on spiraling guitars and playing that will make your brain spill in your skull. Animalistic shrieks make their presence felt, strange playing splatters, and everything rushes into the void. Closer “Chapter VI: Banishment” unloads with death gurgles and a blinding assault, wild calls making chills run down your spine. The playing charges but also numbs, slurring through strange vocals and dizzying guitars that make the room spin. The pressure squeezes your temples, the pace gives some final jolts of energy, and melodic keys and the remaining gusts of fire bury this thing in the stars.

Symphonic black metal is a style that hasn’t aged particularly well, but there are bands that still do it really well and don’t overdo the silliness, and Pestilent Hex have a stranglehold on this whole thing. “The Ashen Abhorrence” is a record that not only delivers really strong black metal, it also packs the right amount of drama that keeps you tuned in and won’t release you until the ride is complete. This is a powerful statement, something that feels cinematic and bloody in all the best ways, and it’ll fill your summer with delicious morbidity.

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the album, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/