Written by: Blackie Skulless
Extirpate (verb): to root out or destroy completely. Nothing cooler than when the band name’s meaning fits so comfortably in the musical shoe. Extirpation are an Italian black metal band that formed in 2009, releasing several albums in that time. Their latest, entitled A Damnation’s Stairway To The Altar Of Failure, dropped in early 2019 (with a cassette release via Redefining Darkness in late 2020 - Ed.) and boy, is everything about this just painful and unlovable. Strap yourselves in, it’s a nasty ride.
Building their craft around uncontrollable chaos involving madness and discomfort, this release will come in quick with a piercing delivery under mildly degraded quality. That includes the riffwork and the vocals alike. Musically, it’s somewhat thrash-oriented regarding the riffs, hearkening back to the first wave of black metal. But the clashing echo of the hate-fueled drums and the unique, shattering vocal performance brings this to far higher extremes. The vocals alone are a grower for sure, but should even stand out for the seasoned listener of this style.
Some songs cake these features on to a point where they’re meant to be the focus, while others let the thrasher licks come to the top a bit. “(Inevitable) Sufferance” lets that on pretty early with a sharp hook, carrying this rhythm with solid repetition throughout. Some let that in on the vocals a bit, like in “Labyrinth Of Empty Cage,” which loads the harsher aesthetic into the instruments but dials the vocals down a notch. As quick as these songs crank that out, “Soul Pact” manages the same thing by fleshing it out to make a real impression.
What’s also nice is the slower areas of A Damnation’s Stairway To The Altar Of Failure. “Faith Of The Parasite” has a rather pretty intro for what this is, slowly flipping it on its back with the use of tremolos and breaking into more familiar territory. Room for stompier takes are also allowed because of this. Look for that in the outro of “Into Disease,” but Extirpation actually does this fairly frequently throughout the whole album.
From the eerie intro all the way to the end, these Italians display some serious brutality mostly chalked up to delivery, which isn’t often a word I’ll use to describe black metal. But they never get lost in this and end up losing the firm musical ground. Lots of different approaches are made to achieve the same horrendous effect, and I love every bit of it. This thing just breathes insanity, hate, and fear in all the right ways.
(One complaint: the cassette version has ten minutes on one side and like twenty-three on the second side. Learn to balance your album, ya nerds!)
Extirpation - A Damnation’s Stairway To The Altar Of Failure was originally released Jan. 2019, and saw a cassette release Dec. 2020 via Redefining Darkness.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!