The easiest way out of taking bestial black/death metal and war metal seriously typically comes in the form of a canned dismissal not unlike the traditional death metal fan’s accosting of grindcore. That it is riffless, shapeless, and a lesser form of art that relies on pointlessly extreme movements and pure spectacle to inspire the casual listener. In fact for many die-hard fans the globular chaos and reckless extremity of the sub-genre is what makes it such an entertaining performance art. In fact there exists as much finesse in bestial forms of extreme black/death metal as any other metal sub-genre and the responsibility of the ‘open-minded’ metal obsessive is to keep digging regardless of how much trash obscures any treasure. My own exploration of war metal continues to rely on certain production types and textural guitar work in differentiating scene and nuance, there is no hope in worshiping old idols any more than newcomers as the style’s origins and offspring aren’t any more or less distinct beyond those early evolutionary steps following mutated thrashers and devolving black metal innovators.
In an attempt to skirt the abyss and approach Chicago, Illinois project Hellfire Deathcult on their own terms I thankfully had their full discography to soak in; Formed in 2013 the band now features members from Ov Plagues, Black Devotion, and Oblivion Worship which should be a cue for their focus on black metal atmospherics and formless wall of noise style of war metal. Though the band started out playing a style closer to Black Witchery and Morbosidad on this second album Hellfire Deathcult takes a deeper step into the true murk of bands like Teitanblood and early Impetuous Ritual. This comes against the grain of my own expectations as it seemed the project was beginning to verge on a Nuclearhammer or Diocletian style, or at least fidelity, beyond their ‘Death Worship’ EP from 2017. Instead ‘Black Death Terroristic Onslaught’ is even more obscured and will appear too atmospheric for it’s own good with a cursory listen.
“Baptized by Hellfire” is the point in the album where I start to feel like the production intentionally masks the musical value of the piece at such a level that I’m not sure what is going on, it just sounds cool. This disorientation is arguably a good portion of the value offered by the album, it appears as a storm-like blur of cavernous noise that you must pay attention to to parse out any detail. Without any incredible depth to be found you’re left to either marvel at the atmospheric growls, relentlessly blasting drums, and arm-crushing rhythm guitar chaos. The experience is no more musical than a washing machine drowning out a slasher film’s dialogue and yet Hellfire Deathcult excel at a propulsive, liquid gush of atmospheric movement. However aimless it seems, the din achieves some personal value in the moment rather than in summation. Let it bury you and decide where to go from there.
Terrorized within our tombs. 3.0/5.0
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