Written by: The Administrator
While raw black metal will likely never become this particular scribe's genre of choice, I will always enjoy the visceral fury and abrasivity that serves both as the fuel and the final product. There's something so remarkably potent about music that literally makes your the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and in that regard, Dread Maw has succeeded enormously at capturing my attention. Debut EP Sanctified Murder is a strong first effort, and, moreso, serves as a tantalizing taste of what is yet to come.
Dread Maw is the product of one Erin Palmer, who you may know from A. the realms of metal twitter and/or B. black metal outfit Rage of Devils. Whereas Rage, however, leans into a black 'n' roll influenced corner of the black metal universe, Dread Maw is a little more dissonant, a little more chaotic, and a lot more brutal...intrinsically so.
This EP has a lot going for it. The riffs are chaotic and abrasive as you might expect--always intense, never comfortable. The drums are surprisingly varied and present, but not aggressively so; more on this below. And, lest they be forgot, the tortured vocals are like unto a demon mid-exorcism, caught somewhere between the guitar and drums in, again, an arena of discomfort. Erin's harsh delivery doesn't seem so much like an expulsion as it does a process of extraction--her vocals feel like they are being ripped out. It's a strained quality that lends the whole affair an eerie and uncanny edge
From a compositional standpoint, the five tracks herein are the furthest from formulaic. No Instrumental opener "Hate" sets an anticipatory and dramatic stage that is prompted sandblasted to hell and back by the blatant aggression of "Slave to the Insects." Meanwhile, "Tithe of Teeth"--which features some terrific guest vocals from Sarah Allen Reed--continues the pattern of unpredictability, delivering a sense of movement akin to falling very slowly down a hellish flight of stairs. "An Eye Wreathed In Flame" brings a lurching riff-centric approach to the forefront, while (personal favorite) "Black Clothe Around Your Throat," the longest track herein, feels particularly immersive and cacophonous--almost dizzying. Rather than exuding that icy aesthetic one typically finds walking hand-in-hand with the genre in question, this track in particular feels inexplicably warm. Each track has its own unique identity, which is a quality I'm excited to see carried over in further Dread Maw projects.
While the production is vaguely off-putting by benefit of the style, it's impossible to be critical, as the thinness of the guitar and the general bedroom-recording vibe suit the project quite well. It's hard to imagine what this would sound like with a lusher tone, but I can only imagine it would lose a significant part of the appeal. The drums, it should be noted, sound pretty damn good--they are present, yet not overtly sharp in the way that raw black metal snares and cymbals often are. Realistically, the only complaint I have is that the tracks end abruptly without room for transition, but that is the epitome of nitpicky.
Upon release, I commented that "if you enjoy the hallmarks of dissonant black metal, you'll undoubtedly enjoy what Dread Maw hath conjured on this first outing." and...I was initially going to leave it at that. However, there's something about this EP that has left a significant mark, and, as such, a short review simply would not do. By benefit of the overt abrasivity contained within, Sanctified Murder clearly isn't for everyone. There's no polish or shine here. But for those of you that enjoy black metal at its most raw and emotive, these five tracks will undoubtedly strike a chord.
Dread Maw - Sanctified Murder was released Dec. 28th, 2020, and can be foundhere.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!