Here we receive two of the very finest and visible examples of yet to be fully tapped potential among the aspiring French death metal landscape in one glorious 7″ EP. We start along the northwest border between France and Belgium in Lille with Skelethal, a pair of musicians obsessed with the Autopsy influenced craft of Nihilist and Carnage and the monumental fruit their family tree would eventually bear. Skelethal are a brutally achieved fare that hammers down with riffs more inspired than most any other project using the Boss HM-2 guitar pedal to drive the show; Instead of hiding behind the wall of noise the effects pedal produces they carve a path through the Earth down to hell with it and conjure riffs worthy of ‘Left Hand Path’ and early Unleashed alike, the focus is much less on the punkish aspects of the Swedish stylistic movement and more on the twisted riffing of albums like ‘Where No Life Dwells’ and with the urgency of groups like Repugnant.
The two tracks Skelethal provide for this split showcase the two sides of their sound where the first is a longer (four and a half minute) track that develops a relationship between doomed riff and d-beaten battery through sped-up rolling rhythmic movements a la Afflicted. The second track is shorter and emphasizes an almost ‘Clandestine’-esque groove with a clear hook appearing halfway through the song, it is reminiscent of when Entombed were halfway there towards the style of ‘Wolverine Blues’. These songs sound a little bit cleaner than ‘Of the Depths…’ (2017) but that may be a result of different mixing or my foggy memory as they otherwise appear to be from the same sessions of their debut full-length.
Southwest of Lille down in Rennes coughs Cadaveric Fumes who have been around about as long as Skelethal but have yet to produce a full-length album. The potential here is a great focus for folks who obsess over the limits of ‘new old school’ death metal that incorporates progressive and psychedelic music elements into traditional death metal aesthetics. Cadaveric Fumes represent an approach spearheaded by groups like Morbus Chron and Tribulation in moving outside of the box of death metal with experimentation but never spiritually leaving the sub-genre. The material from the band on this 7″ continues the thread far beyond their hazy reverb-mushed approach on ‘Dimensions Obscure’ (2016) EP and seems to move closer to their own form of rock infused riff-centered death metal.
“The Spectral Parade” appears as a psychotropic Autopsy-esque crawl in its center and achieves a sound far the expectation of something closer to Necrovation. “Necromancy Sublime” follows a similar thread of attack in terms of rhythm guitar that begins to remind me of early Deceased in the same way Sepulcher‘s record from earlier this year did. Wobbling guitars that flail into psych rock solo freakouts in each track begin to form what could be a strong signature for future Cadaveric Fumes releases, though I did begin to feel like they’d spent so much time developing those rock-adjacent elements that the death metal riffs were less of a point of interest anymore. There is an unbalanced feeling there that I’m hoping they never lose, or at least expand upon (see: Execration). Highly recommended split, especially if you’re not yet familiar with either band.
Unfathomable misanthropic obscurity. 4.5/5.0
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