Some of the most damning lies of the sixteenth century came from European explorers hoping to prime new territories in today’s South America for conquest. The methodology was the same, be it then King of Spain or an opportunistic soldier like German Hans Staden, whose false accounts of conquest and cannibalism would contribute to the death of countless native cultures to this day. Staden’s ‘Warhaftige Historia und beschreibung eyner Landtschafft der Wilden Nacketen, Grimmigen Menschfresser-Leuthen in der Newenwelt America gelegen‘ (1557) offers accounts of the lives of the Tupinambá people who inhabited what would soon be Portuguese conquered Brazil. Most damning of is lies would be the description of the ritualistic slaughter and consumption of rival warrior tribes which would find its greatest horror with the description of finding the skulls of Children in the bottom of a bowl of soup served to Staden. Of course no archaeological findings support this accusation but it helped portray the native Amazonian tribes as savage enemies, uncivilized and murderous without moral. However unpalatable the consumption of dead human flesh might sustain itself as one of the greater fears and horrors of humanity, the belief that this act empowers and strengthens the eater of man-flesh with the essence of the conquered was agreed upon by myriad warrior peoples (and a few serial killers) across the globe. Sydney, Australia quintet Horrisonous obsess over the follies of human meat nearly as much as they do over the effective bludgeon that old school death/doom savagery brings to humanity, without all of the bones and hair to worry about later.
If your mind drifted off to the old barfed-up, lo-fi Carcass-assed death metal from the early Razorback Records line-up you’re actually not as far off as you’d think but refocus towards the mid 00’s era of Coffins and Hooded Menace. The sapient snarls of vocalist Yonn McLaughlin, who is best known as ex-Temple Nightside and current Pestilential Shadows drummer Basilysk, bring unexpected and nearly blackened rasping to an flawlessly rendered mix of Asphyx and Bolt Thrower influenced skull-boiling. Deep and darkly rich flavors keep those olden mid-paced death metal ways dancing on the auditory palate thanks to the memberships of ex-Backyard Mortuary and Bludgeoner folks but, ‘A Culinary Cacophony’ is not at all iteration upon ‘Lure of the Occult’ despite a few small similarities. Naturally the menacing death/doom style of ‘The Plague Doctors’ (2016) EP survives on this debut full-length, though it is undeniable that the inclusion of drummer Aled Powell (Golgothan Remains) gives Horrisonous a greater pool of blood to marinate within.
No doubt there is a twinge of ‘Fulfill the Curse’ style riffing to be found here but more apt comparisons might find Horrisonous shoulder-to-shoulder with bands like Innsmouth, ‘Angel of the Sixth Order’ era Armoured Angel (see: “A Tale of Matriphagy”) and Torchure‘s long-forgotten ‘Beyond the Veil’. The deep register of the guitars on ‘A Culinary Cacophony’ offer a modern edged sound but the performance dynamics reek only of the oldest schools of death that’d marry with passages of doom before it’d be labeled as any such hybrid. Entrenched in filth but not raw or lacking in modern fidelity Horrisonous offer a great balance of serious, sinister epics and kitschy retro death metal shock value while placing the guitar movements as the main driver of pace and progression. The crossover between Autopsy and the early Stockholm death metal scene applies to the faster paced points of ‘A Culinary Cacophony’ but the bulk of this record is dynamically rhythmic beyond the scope of those ‘old school’ counterparts, closer in overall effect to Grave Miasma or the aforementioned Innsmouth minus some of the black metal influences.
Whatever style or era they’re pushing through Horrisonous consistently represent the most effective spectrum of mid-paced death metal with powerful doom metal riffs that highlight builds and bridges of more intricate guitar work. This focus on shifting dynamics isn’t wholly unpredictable but it’ll take at least 4-5 listens before you’ll likely be anticipating the movements of ‘A Culinary Cacophony’. The themes of disease and cannibalism, among other subjects, aren’t groundbreaking or particularly memorable but the seasoned death metal fandom will appreciate their uncomplicated message of aggrandized misanthropic horror. This album clicked with me in terms of death/doom style and classic death metal tonality but, I won’t say I ever found a thread of riffs that really knocked me on my ass. By the tenth full listen I felt I’d extracted the vital juices from the mushed-up gore of Horrisonous without absorbing any new found power and without the warriors blood rage coursing through me, I’d say the album is on the average side of things in terms of songwriting. Every other aspect of the music is on point placing the quality of this release beneath the heightened conceptual legacies of similar groups like Slugathor/Desecresy but above a group like Decaying. There is yet room to move even further into their own here and for that reason I can highly recommend Horrisonous‘ debut as solid old school death/doom but also as a band to look out for in the future. For preview you’re limited to one track but I’d suggest hearing both “Kuru Worship” and “A Tale of Matriphagy” before making any final judgement of this fine album.
Savage nobility. 4.0/5.0
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