Aussie death terrors Writhing devastate, attack your psyche on pummeling ‘Of Earth & Flesh’

I am terrified of Australia, even though it seems lovely on the surface. Like, straight up, if I ever encountered a Hunstman spider, I’d probably pass away immediately. I can’t even look at a photo of a whistling spider without it making my guts crawl, and I wish I was making this up. I’m upset enough that I exist on the same globe as these things, meaning a meeting with one is not 0 percent.

I feel like that’s why Aussie death metal is so harrowing and horrifying because who knows what the fuck potentially is under your bed or behind a drape? That’s scarier than some fake devil shit, and even though it’s not the basis for “Of Earth & Flesh,” the debut record from death metal force Writhing, it might as well be. This feels like something creeping up your backside, putting every ounce of fear imaginable into your body, with a side of strange atmospherics that hardly offer a serving of calm. The band—vocalist Pat, guitarist Joel, bassist Jackson, drummer Jake—find a way to put ferocity and creativity into the same package, giving you the brutality you require but also teasing your psyche into wondering what in this style of music is truly possible.

“Monolithic Extinction” opens in the pit of gloom before the guitars take on a life of their own, leading the punishment that’s bolstered by growls that aim for the throat. The chorus mashes as everything here gets deadlier, bludgeoning with gnarly power and ending in a dizzying haze. “That Which Becomes Death” fires up but also carries a hypnotic edge, the growls rushing alongside it and doing bodily harm. The lead are fluid as the bass flexes its muscle, the power increases, and abrasive heat leaves you running for cover. The title track has a deliberate start, letting the temperature rise as growls rumble, and the bass lurches and leaves an oil slick behind. Guitars create a fog as the brutality mixes with balminess, plowing through and burying everything in muck. “Concealed Within the Soil” blisters from the start as the growls penetrate and head down the path to destruction. Growls and shrieks mix, the playing thrashes, and everything ends abruptly, robbing your lungs of air.

“Uncreation” brings stirring leads and grisly growls, the pace sending you for a loop where you question your sanity. Menacing riffs sink in their teeth as the playing explodes with a bloodlust, the one-word chorus battering its way into your brain. “Passages of Misery” is packed with sinewy guitars and a jackhammering tempo, even as spacious sections allow you to breathe fresh air. The growls smear powdered bone, the pace slowly mangles, the guitars burn the remaining flesh off the bone. “Squalid Sanctum” bleeds in from the cosmos, laying down the hammer in a disorienting manner. The guitars explore outer space as things float in psychedelic waters, melting away walls of ice that flood the earth with dank, putrid waters. Closer “Portal to Unhallowed Realms” is an instrumental piece that destroys right away, rushing through mud and thickening the collection of filth. Melodies surface and repeat as the track is infused with unexpected colors, and final gasps of sludge close off the blood flow for good.

This Aussie wrecking crew in Writhing have a twisted and violent approach to death metal on “Of Earth & Flesh,” but they also have an imagination you don’t get with all bands playing at this level. There are unexpected twists and turns, trap doors you won’t see coming, and plenty of bursts that twist your brain. This is challenging stuff dished out in a compact serving that leaves you just satisfied enough and ready to handle the next adventure with this beast. Also, fuck large spiders.

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