Death metal maulers Vrenth hit back with more doomy grime on face-breaker ‘Succumb to Chaos’

Last weekend, I saw Metallica play at the baseball stadium here in Pittsburgh, probably the only event worth anyone’s time at that gorgeous venue that’s been violated by the Nutting family who refuse to do a fucking thing to field a winning team. OK, that’s not why we’re here. It made me wonder after watching these nearly 60-year-old dudes bring it what aging death metal bands will be doing in 10-20 years’ time, and if that challenging form of music still will be playable by the vets.

I didn’t mean to lump death metal punishers Vrenth in with aging artists, as they’re nowhere near that phase, but listening to their bloodthirsty second record “Succumb to Chaos” did make me think if this style of music has a shelf life for those who play it live. Just look at Suffocation! So, maybe we need to relish these guys while we have them, and Vrenth deliver plenty of reasons to bask in your adulation on this eight-track mauler. The band—vocalist Mike Nelson, guitarist/backing vocalist Christian LaRocca, guitarist Bob Babcock, bassist Steve Shrapnelson, drummer Charlie Koryn—bring experience from myriad bands including Gravehill, Ascended Dead, Funebrarum, VoidCeremony, Destroyed in Seconds, Ruin, Dead Conspiracy, and plenty of others, and they apply their wealth of deadly experience to this record that will liquify your guts and leave you writhing in your own mess. Gross, dude.

“Omnipresence (Mors Certa/Hora Incerta)” begins burly and ugly, which is fitting, as Nelson’s growls bury you in filth, and a brief haze turns into a blistering solo. The leads churn and explode, the vocals apply the stranglehold, and infernal chaos ends abruptly. “Demise in Hollow Suffering” is eerie when it starts and then everything is shredded as a thunderous pace gives away to the earth being swallowed whole. The drums absolutely massacre, the growls gurgle, and the final bursts leave major bruising. “Curse of the Living and of the Dead” is doomy and slithers through mud, and then death metal fury unloads, dragging you into an ugly brawl. The guitars take on a classic heavy metal vibe as the tempo thrashes, leaving you a heaving mess. “Integrum Tenebrae” opens amid a strange fever dream before things slowly begin to swelter, and the drums feel like a battering ram. Fluid leads tease your mind before things get ugly again in a hurry, pounding your flesh into ash.

“Succumb to Chaos” opens with the drums coming to life as the pace trudges and the growls add a heavy dose of menace. The murk gets a little thicker, and then guitars explode out of that, adding to the fury and even causing your insides to melt before the final moments destroy again. “An Eternal Impious War” enters into thick cloud cover and then grisly death tightens its grip, choking the life out of you. Speed becomes a factor as the growls punish, the soloing overwhelms with great force, and a final gasp unloads all of the splintered bones in its arsenal. “Contemptus Mundi” dawns in monster noises jarring you, and then the punishment explodes, smearing black soot down your throat. The playing crumbles as the growls deface, the guitars blind, and the drumming leaves everything in cinders. Closer “The End as a Shadow” is burly and doomy, the growls scathing as the pummeling smashes muscle into the ground. The pace trudges as the bile collects, things manage to get even darker, and then a final explosion loosens whatever is left of the foundation, burying everything in rubble.

There’s no sense in annoying you with some word salad trying to sum up “Succumb to Chaos,” because this is just blood-and-guts death metal that boils in doom and is served bone cold. Vrenth aren’t trying to reinvent anything or to impress you with flashy playing, though they’re goddamn solid as hell, as the whole point here is to destroy at death metal’s altar. This is heavy, vicious stuff, and if this doesn’t scratch your death metal itch, likely nothing ever will.

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