The second demo from Boston area blackened death/thrashers Rancorous finds the trio moving beyond the relatively basic ‘Tapping the Vein’-era Sodom sound on their ‘Into the Nuclear Fire’ (2018) demo towards a style heavily influenced by classic late 80’s/early 90’s hardcore punk and modern blackened heavy metal. The goal may very well have been to simply amplify the blackened side of their sound but the chunky angular riffing and hard-struck progressions have more in common with the theatrics of bands like Offenders or Raised Fist than they do Nifelheim or Midnight. Does it all accumulate towards uh, blackened death n’ hardcore punk ‘n roll? Kinda yeah, but not exactly. Rancorous are doubly compelling this time around regardless of how anyone’d choose to label their evolving style; It is a unique and entertaining shift nonetheless that manifests as songwriting that is just peeking beyond the curtain of their formative growth towards what could be an interesting signature.
At four songs and less than ten minutes the whole of ‘Stealth Dominion’ rips by fast and each track has some sort of compelling idea or ‘hook’. The opener “Stealth Dominion” and “Cold Revenge” are really driven by their hardcore influenced progressions and what I’d consider a post-Toxic Holocaust style of thrash metal riffing. “Prime Sacrilege” is where things get a bit more interesting with their rock guitar chops coming hard-flung with modern black metal transitions sophisticating the middle portion of the song. “Revelator” combines both approaches into a sort of two act piece that black-thrashes in and then slow-builds towards a clanking black metal progression for much of the second part. There is a fastidious quality to this type of disregard for sub-genre norms that is perhaps cleaner than a comparison to say Slaughter (Canada) might warrant but there is that same kind of ‘simple but twisted’ ethos in action across ‘Stealth Dominion’. I like that there is an ambiguous quality to Rancorous‘ style as the possibilities begin to brim in my head.
I’m not sure what Rancorous are yet and it remains to be seen what they’re all about beyond the 1-3 minute extreme metal n’ roll rippers they’ve cranked out thus far. That said, those rippers do rip and I’d generally recommend checking this demo out. Moderately high recommendation, professional performances and meticulous songwriting show great drive in working out tasteful/memorable stylistic ideas. For preview I’d suggest “Revelator” and “Prime Sacrilege” are really the stride that is most inspiring but the late 90’s hardcore dork in me really loves the riffs on the title track most of all.
Rivers of death and the water cold. 3.25/5.0
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