Written by: The Administrator
Maybe I'm alone in this opinion, but I find high quality death metal albums particularly difficult to review. The standard adjectives feel dead on arrival--"brutal" or "ripping" or "pulverizing" only get you so far with an audience who has heard it all before. Upping the ante in terms of gross-out description is similarly limited: there's only so many ways you can say "cranium-crushing" "intestine-splitting" or "cadaver-licking" before the hyperbole starts feeling stale and copy/pastable. You can only drop so many laundry lists of high-profile acts such as Morbid Angel, Revulsion, Incantation, Dying Fetus, Deicide, Suffocation, Hate Eternal, and motherfuckin' Cannibal Corpse before it starts to sound like comparison for the sake of comparison.
Anyways. enough shop talk. Let's move on to today's high-quality death metal album in question.
In Chaos Ascend is the high-quality debut death metal album from Necrophagous, the result of a musical human centipede situation starring ex-Visceral Bleeding and ex-Entrails members as the component parts. This trio is starting the year with a righteous bang, as In Chaos Ascend is an undeniably high quality death metal album--the kind of album that expectantly sets a bar for others to follow. This beast is brutal and ripping and pulverizing in all the right places, bringing to the table the cranium-crushing, intestine-splitting, and cadaver-licking violent putridity we've come to expect from groups who worship at the altar of OSDM. Necrophagous wear their influence on their collective sleeve, brandishing the foundations and flourishes of legends in the field such as Morbid Angel, Revulsion, Incantation, Dying Fetus, Deicide, Suffocation, Hate Eternal, and (say it with me!) motherfuckin' Cannibal Corpse. It is a high quality death metal album.
The scene-setting of the intro track, which is often a forgettable detail, works quite well here at determining a monstrous ambiance. It's an appropriate warmup for first track proper "Order of the Lion," which is gloriously far from innovative in its approach across much of the breadth, but throws in some unexpected squelches in the back half that serve to interrupt the riff soup and Floridian filth. Followup "At Dawn Thee Immolate" demonstrates the dynamic nature of Necrophagus' riffcraft, giving time to both their frenetic and slimy sides, before eventually slowing things down for a lil' intimate breakdown of sorts. This sense of balance in composition is a strategy that plays nicely against the tracks that are a little more single-minded in their aggression--take the "Traitors And The Pendulum" or the title track's pounding muscularity and speedy forward momentum. Generally, the whole package is heavy on the groove, both in the form of chunky headbangable riffs and the rolling percussion--look to the barn burning "Wolf Mother" for an example of the sheer kinetic potential this crew packs. Groove aside, there's a certain catchiness buried among the putridity--these high-quality death metal songs have meathooks.
And, while Side A is absolutely stocked, fear not: In Chaos Ascend simply does not fall off. All killer, no filler, as they say. The intense and twisted closer "Wreaker Of Pain" and the decidedly evil (yet deceptively catchy) "The Plague And The Arts"--which features some very nice basswork--are Side B standouts. That said, literally everything here rips. A 45 minute runtime doesn't get much better than this. Truly a high-quality death metal album.
While I'm tempted to bemoan the lacks of solos in the name of variety, Necrophagous aren't really a band that is built for solos, so I can hardly blame 'em for emitting a component that would otherwise fuck with their grinding assault. In any case, the stop-start switches and the numerous breakdowns sprinkled throughout provide enough in the way of ear-catching intrigue. No doubt about it: despite sticking to its OSDM guns without introducing new elements into the fray, this isn't a dull or predictable project.
The past few years have delivered a variety of bands much like Necrophagous, who write albums much like In Chaos Ascend. That is by no means an insult or an attempt to downplay the impact of their work here. Rather, it is a recognition of a delightful and promising trend. We're seeing a great many bands that are not necessarily establishing the highest of high water marks, but are markedly consistent in their slow march towards a version of modern-day death metal that genuinely rivals the progenitors of the style. It's exciting to be in the midst of an overflow of quality, and while 2022 inevitably has a lot more left in the tank, Necrophagous have most certainly started things off on the right foot. I strongly suspect that death metal fans will be coming back to this one pretty consistently throughout the year--and I count myself among that number.
The best way to get me to check out a high quality death metal album is to keep the recommendation exceedingly simple. Sometimes, in favor of brevity, a high quality death metal album is best described as exactly that--a high quality death metal album. But as a clumsily verbose individual, I'll never actually be bold enough to write such an abbreviated review. Needless to say, In Chaos Ascend is a high quality death metal album, and comes highly recommended.
Necrophagous - In Chaos Ascend was released Jan 7th, 2021 via Transcending Obscurity. Buy it here!
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.