Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, September 5, 2014

Horrendous - Ecdysis

It's always nice to see bands that understand that not everything has been done before.  When a band in 2014 considers themselves to be in the vein of 90's death metal, it can mean one of two things: Either they are a bunch of kids sitting in their basements pretending to know how to play that one cool solo from that one song their dad showed them one time, or they actually have a fucking clue and you should, at the very least, give them a chance.  Thankfully, Horrendous seem to have a somewhat firm grasp on what works and what doesn't in their upcoming release, Ecdysis.

With a name like Horrendous, you would sort of expect a band to go out of their way to make imperceptibly hard to listen to tracks.  Although that's not quite the case, Ecdysis does on occasion throw in some bits and pieces that don't always lend themselves to easy listening.  Perhaps it's just me, but the harsh vocals on the first track, The Stranger, and tenth track, Titan, don't always fit quite so smoothly into the puzzle.  Their vocalist alternates between "professional harsh death metal vocalist" and "biker that has smoked three packs a day for the past twenty years."

Still, it would be remiss of me not to mention that the quality does pick up considerably in the second through ninth tracks - so much so that I found myself to be perpetually suspended in that sweet spot between rage and calm that only great death metal bands can deliver.  The band's instrumentals never failed to remain engaging, no matter how unnerving the vocals were in those two particular tracks.  Continuously alternating between classic 80's/90's metal solos and relentless riffing in the first half of the album, Ecdysis offers an exciting build up to the fifth track, The Vermillion.  Marking the mid-point of the release and offering a spacious acoustic interlude, The Vermillion provides an underlying sense of melancholy punctuated by a separate layer of wonder and hope that brings the first half of the album neatly to a close.

Ecdysis wastes no time in re-entering the atmosphere, throwing us back to the ground at supersonic speeds to continue to drag us through the dirt.  There's a sort of satisfying (and fitting) regality to The Monarch, an ominous refrain that sounds equal parts Ancient Egypt and equal parts Star Wars.  The slight transition to more frequent instrumentation versus vocalization allows more emotive expression through nuance versus outright dictation.  The dueling guitars in Pavor Nocturnus provide a solid example of the many facets of the album all at once, tossing all of the best bits of 90's death metal into a time capsule and allowing them to re-awaken in all of their glory in good-ol'-2014.

Although not all of this album works in conjunction with itself, the composition is top-notch, allowing for a nostalgic yet refreshing experience all at once.  Ecdysis takes us back to a time when death metal wasn't about just showing off how many solos you could throw into your tracks at random and brings subtlety and swagger to the forefront to show that restraint can make those moments of technical prowess shine even brighter.

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