Having reached an underrated peak a decade into their classic progressive death metal lifespan Chilean quartet Inanna would fractalize into hiatus, their inhabitants soon realizing brutal support for emergent occult acts Dominus Xul and Trimegisto. This break from leadership would find bassist/vocalist Max Neira and current Suppression drummer Felipe Zará on a path toward realizing Neira‘s vision of pure and simple ‘old school’ minded death metal: Coffin Curse. Normally I’d truck through the history and development of Inanna just for the sake of getting more people to listen but they’ve announced a third album so, we can kick it over to 2012 where the original line-up of the duo would record their first EP (‘Gathered Unto Death‘, 2013), easily the most straightforward and (eh, plain) punch of death from the side-project that didn’t signal much more than serious worship at the time. Perhaps still occupied with other more pressing projects, Coffin Curse wouldn’t really start to sound like they were headed towards a full-length until after Zará left, first employing Blasfemia‘s drummer for an EP (‘Inward Dissolution‘, 2018) and then securing Inanna‘s second guitarist and sound engineer Carlos Fuentes as their drummer from that point on. The general inkling I get is that Coffin Curse‘s debut full-length, ‘Ceased to Be’, is so densely packed with riffs compared to past releases because it attempts to whirl the best of six years of composition into one 45 minute ripper. The result is a fantastic success, the sort of riff-stuffed classicist death metal that keeps the genre alive in my mind year over year.
The curse to overcome when evaluating a record from musicians I am already well familiar with is that I know exactly what they’ve been capable of in the past so, it takes a real bullet-to-the-head to knock a record like ‘Transfigured in a Thousand Delusions’ out of me. ‘Ceased to Be’ had a clean slate and their own brand new pedestal before the opening track, “Gathered Unto Death”, had finished. The frantic skull-shocking riffs of Ripping Corpse, the slaughterous blasts of ‘Dawn of Possession’ and Neira‘s impeccable knack for guiding the necessary dynamic aggression for this sort of thrash-infused death metal riffing all add up to a captivating and wholly brutal spin. Coffin Curse had given the suggestion of this depth on ‘Inward Dissolution’ but ‘Ceased to Be’ unfolds a discography’s worth of death metal riffs within minutes. In fact it’ll be pure brutal momentum for the first 20 minutes, essentially all of Side A, with a non-stop attack ’til “Feeding on Perpetual Disgrace” edges into some death/thrash territory and “Extinct” pushes its much needed ‘Mental Funeral’-esque dirge into the fray. At this point I was well beyond sold on the whole gig but the late-in-album appearance of “Grave Offender” really provides the extra push towards the argument for this being an exceptional record rather than just a solid one.
From the first listen I’d both appreciated the ambitious mastery of the ~10 minute closer, “Deep in Streams of Purifying Dirt”, and kinda resented how it’d cut off the high-speed horror of the record just as it’d peaked. Don’t get me wrong, I love the actual song here as it leans into some of Coffin Curse‘s more ‘modern’ influences and showcases how the brutal side of the band can coalesce meaningfully with the less nourished mid-paced and atmospheric side. The issue I took was that they’d more or less saved the most original and affecting piece on the record for last. The rest of the album would start to blur past me with its tales of revenge, disgusting horror, and societal doom before I’d get stuck in the soggy torpor of decay as the final song narrates a slow descent into rotten dirt. It was as if my mind were naturally resisting death’s embrace — I’d have to breathe in deep and let go as the flies swarmed in. At the point of peak immersion and familiarity with ‘Ceased to Be’ I’d felt like that’d been the intended effect, to stumble unto death and resign to the tormenting gaze the reaper provided. In more plain terms, there is some real death metal magic happening on Side B that’d go leagues beyond my own expectations.
Although you might dive into Coffin Curse‘s depths feeling warmly received by its familiar ‘old school’ gait, its tightly wound and impeccably performed riff attack by the end of the experience it’ll reveal much greater value than the average severed head-banging, bone-spitting revivalist piece. I must’ve listened to it a hundred times in the last two months, regularly squeezing it into my listening habits even when there was no room. For its insistent impact within my mind I have to give a very high recommendation for this one and consider it among the very best of January.
Very high recommendation. 4.5/5.0
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