Superstition – The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation (2019) REVIEW

The wraith of the unknown communes its unseeable cursed spectral dreadnought as a great spiraling pool above, plumbed and sloshing its waste within the minds of feigned innocents. Those who’d forever appear ignorant in the hands of our greatest tormentor, the chrism-flinging career sycophants of the feigned afterlife, who’d whirl forever the stench of their rotting minds unto a grand perfume of death yet endeavor to sate the thirst of these apocalyptic times with easily cast deceit. Rattling in the grand stomach of this cacophonous ritual of human idiocy and pliable senses are a thousand generations of skulls, barrel-smoothed and polished by the acid of death’s eternal hunger all gemstones hewn from the ingrained denial all minds create when accepting answers to the inconceivable. The true horror of the modern man is they, the skeletal army of theists who’d believe any one thing and poison the well of thought, those champions of whatever fallacy of communal righteousness mankind can feign amidst blatant slaughter. We, the inconceivable “us” is the most rotten Superstition of our time, the idea that a greater body of humanity could be dissected into swallowable swarming mass of unified selfless-piety or meaning is vaingloriously preposterous. No great unknown exists without a prerequisite falsity that is willfully bonesaw-blunted ignorance of ‘The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation’ taken place within the species of man for the last two thousand years, a torturous travail that has lead to nothing less than a stunning recreation of (idiot savant) writ poetic descriptions of Hell. Let the head of the crucifix swing down and lightning catch its steeple twice to set the church itself ablaze and stage entrance for death incarnate: Behold the thousand-swiping fireblades of rhythmic hearse-slamming ghast in conjuration of the nimble blasphemies of Santa Fe, New Mexico based tyrannical abominations Superstition. With electrical fire and brimstone they lay dry the thirst of ancients and babes alike with a glorious entrance that’d usher in the end of blissful hope among men, a true cessation of all elaborate denial.

As the crazed unification of forces driving Vrasubatlat and Psychic Violence created increasingly imposing momentum for their Ash Borer related brilliance one sect remained in the pacific northwest and the other forges in distant New Mexico. There is such ambition and intention in each both in terms of self-driven business, communal ritual, and the act of creation itself as you may recall my detailing on the Triumvir Foul release from earlier this year. Predatory Light, Vanum, Heretical Sect each choose a left hand path of operation, an extant release of black metal relevant (or centric) dualism that is shattered with old and new stylistic traits and each unwilling to wipe themselves of complex or resonant themes for the sake of trend or whatever fickle driver so many operate with. Musicians K. Morgan and L. Sheppard pair as guitarists in all or (assuredly) most of these projects but Superstition is perhaps where they’ve been most indulgent of ‘classic’ death metal and the intensive riffcraft requisite of a modern day example of the sub-genre. Far and above the most thrilling demo release of 2018 ‘Surging Throng of Evil’s Might’ was an utter rapture of all 80’s US death metal scouring death metal bands I’d rubbed up against in the last several years. So uncannily riveting was the intense death/thrashing insistence of that demo that I’d gotten a chance to incant the impossible to suggest that an equal or acceptable replicate of groups like Incubus (Georgia), Insanity (California) and several other dark classic forms from the mid-80’s death metal underground, was within grasp of this very new and very wise death metal band. There are various modern cousins to this craft in groups like Obscure Burial, Infernal Conjuration, and Temisto each of which stretches their reach into more twisted and fatalistic formulae not so reliant upon stuttering, jazzy death/thrash rigidity. With ‘The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation’ Superstition don’t wrestle away from this feeling of 1989 Florida death metal supremacy but instead embrace the psychotic darkness with a brilliant study of the death/thrash metal riff as key narrative.

Superstition spend a total of three minutes introducing three acts of this otherwise 35 minute death metal album and at no point do they take a break from the frantic riffs within. Their attack is almost bizarre in the sense that it invokes the classic Brunelle/Azagthoth circa ’89 ethos but without any of the classic thrash metal patience and instead tears through the material as if the second coming of Merciless ‘The Awakening’ or, at the very least a fitting companion to recent high watermarks from Mortem (Peru) and contemporaries Infernal Conjuration. I still hear a big hit of Exmortis‘ ‘Descent Into Chaos’ demo in their general sound and songwriting but Superstition are sticking with the most intense aspects of their influences in building upon the material from ‘Surging Throngs of Evil’s Might’. I always feel like an idiot suggesting an album is a ‘riff’ album or ‘guitar’ album in the sense that I’d rather reserve the ‘power of the riff’ nonsense to classic releases but some of that same excitement does project whenever I put ‘The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation’ on for a spin; This is where I think the comparison to Temisto‘s album from 2016 comes in as I’d felt they’d bent that riff album into their own pool of experience and created atmosphere and feeling with it, Superstition does something similar with the classic 80’s death metal ethos by isolating the most vital aspects and unleashing a flood of pieces one after another that make a whole morass of staggeringly dark guitar work that twists and writhes in a satisfying, repeatable sea of motion.

Where Superstition come with a modern frontal lobe and contrast with similar ‘worship’ is their generally subtle use of lead guitars as compositional signet rather than aimless and expected flourish. Each piece is complex in terms of movements that require assigned roles within a two guitar arrangement but the whammy-diving aplomb characteristic of this style of death metal born from extreme thrash metal is kept to a relative minimum for effect. “Torn in the Outer Lands” is a fine example of that restraint loosening to allow the overall statement of the song and composition to speak louder while flourishing with lead guitars that do not interrupt the flow of the piece. Yes, there are several wailing n’ diving solos throughout but they’re often mere seconds long and each predicts either a change in pace or the end of the track. This characteristic becomes more intense in the middle ‘third’ of the album between “Unholy Transformation” parts II and III, where ‘The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation’ becomes truly spell-binding in its by-demons-driven focus that culminates with a strong set of death/thrash metal riffs at the peak of “Unreclaimed Blood (Phantom Swarm)”. This is all a bit of subtlety within a record that won’t beg any great analysis for the first hundred spins because it feels so great to be in the midst of its blasphemic storm. For all of the whining you see today from ‘old school’ death metal fans seeking something of repeatable substance, riffs, and that extra bit of personality in modern death metal much of that sentiment should be silenced by this and several similarly elevated experiences out this year.

‘The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation’ is a righteous barn-burner of a death metal record that never feels cheaply referential of the past despite its expressing as evil thrashing mad as early Merciless and as confidently occult-sneering as the earliest of United States (and South American) death metal. It blazes on high for a solid 35 minute run and could repeat its curse on an infinite loop and still not lose any of its fundamental ‘classic’ death metal appeal. Superstition have delivered upon the promise of their demos in a major way here and the momentum continues to feel incredibly positive coming off of this debut full-length, enough that I’m confident in giving a very high recommendation for it. For preview I’d suggest that the real skull-crack comes with the aforementioned “Passage of Nullification” and the two tracks that follow but I found “Spiritual Sunderance” to be a huge standout for the full listen as well.

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Artist Superstition
Type Album
Released June 14, 2019
BUY & LISTEN on 20 Buck Spin’s Bandcamp! Follow Superstition on Facebook
Genre Death Metal

Architects of suffering eternal. 4.5/5.0

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