Written by: Alex, Bringer of Payne
Attempting to retrospectively describe Italian deathcore outfit Drown in Sulphur is a little tricky, as unfortunately the band has been mired in conflicts since the release of Blackwind. Ultimately, it appears to have split the band, with several members departing to found Defamed, while the drummer has tethered himself to Drown in Sulphur, and repopulated it with a fresh new lineup. Group politics aside however, both the band and Blackwind are pure meat and potatoes deathcore. Thick, pulsating blast beats are layered upon chugging bass and pitched down guitars to create a monochromatic whirlwind. It’s a tried and tested technique that has been a dominant force in extreme metal since being popularised by Job for a Cowboy and Whitechapel, amongst others, almost two decades ago. Remaining fully faithful to the genre, Blackwind is sonically coloured with brutality and themes of violence.
"Sepermenthyne" makes for an appropriate opening track, with a rather brooding introduction, but quickly devolves into a cascade of sound. Ball-crushingly high snarls battle against down-tuned vocals that share a consistency and weight with wet concrete, which continues throughout the record. The piercing contradiction between them highlights the other technique and, while common throughout the genre, is deployed well. Immediately after comes "Psychovangelist," and although it’s rising and increasingly urgent guitar riffs are well implemented, there’s little character to the rest of the track, and it’s not the most memorable moment. However, the titular track doesn’t suffer the same fate and instead benefits from richer production, which manifests as the occasional choral harmony or spoken word delivery in the background. Best described as varied, switching with ease between unrelenting passages and sludgy riffs, before melting away into a brief ethereally acoustic finish.
There’s a sense of maturity in the structuring of the EP, and it’s clear that there’s been a conscious effort to keep the energy undulating over the course of the project. While rudimentary, it’s all too common for deathcore acts to attempt to maintain extremity over an entire project, and overwhelm or wear out listeners. Instead, the instrumental passage isn’t respite, but the eye of the storm, and the rest of Blackwind benefits from the brief "Interlude." The final two tracks, "Nuclear Dawn" and "Moths," are sonically similar and keep their feet on the listeners neck with heavy breakdowns and almost no lulls. A likely overlooked element of Blackwind is it’s superb mixing. Intense tracks such as "Pschovangelist" and "Nuclear Dawn" feel suitably claustrophobic but never stray too far and become muddy, and each band member's individual contribution can be easily picked out. Similarly, the vocals are never mixed so high that they become tiresome, but are easily discerned amongst the chaos. Ultimately, this contributes to the prevailing sense that, although there’s very little originality to be found on this short release, it’s creation has been approached with care.
Drown In Sulpher - Blackwind was released April 2019
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!