These dreams of suffocation now intensify into watery, opiatic nightmares in suspended animation wherein the dying is slow, always with an invisible daimonian hand upon my wringing face. I cannot scream and my arms are numb, twisted behind my back as if a bone-cutting blindfold upon a fleshless skull. A foot away from gasping life, an inch from bursting lungs and upon the crest of death’s gaping smile I wake into sweating horror. Each time it feels more ‘real’ as I begin to wake with both arms completely numbed, tingling debilitated tentacles with the weight of dead meat; There the thrill of almost dying in my dreams becomes a yearning for death’s head to rear in full, a true psychic silence so that I may sleep. I no longer sleep, to abate the change within and prevent the cthonic gods from dragging me below, mind first. These old gods begin to speak to me, haunting my ever-awakened ears through the subterranean rhythms of ‘Perished in Torment’, the first thunderous cenotaph from Fryslân, Netherlands death metal trio Grim Fate. Modest and straight-forward as they might appear within a cursory listen these lumbering death metal songs are delivered with their intended simple and narrow intent aimed at purist underground death metal fans and nobody else.
Formed in 2017 between musicians involved in progressive death band Dimæon and the somewhat more related Boal, Grim Fate wouldn’t allow even a moment of mystery right out of the gates as their mid-to-slow paced death metal style was plainly stated as heavily influenced by Finnish death metal past-and-present with some particular love for Abhorrence and Krypts. Although they haven’t been as incredibly prolific as Tommi Grönqvist‘s Desecresy, the similarly do-it-yourself ethos of their recordings and death/doom pace made for a raw and homespun death metal sound in 2018 with the ‘Emerging From the Crypt‘ EP. Although there is absolutely no flair to that first recording, nothing technical or particularly atmospheric, no dips into melodicism nor any experimental notions their riffs did communicate a unique ambition in the pursuit of Finnish death metal influenced style. Although Grim Fate‘s intent was to communicate a love for groups like Demigod and Disma the actual riffs were more on the level of Mythic‘s slower lunges and/or the first Desecresy album (‘Arches of Entropy‘) where a slower pace and uncomplicated rhythms translated that passion. Some of that intent came across in spite of the programmed drums, which were a bit of a sore spot for my own taste at the time. The band would sign to Xtreem Music the next year and release a split 7″ with Putrevore soon after, showcasing some solid improvements made in terms of tighter guitar performances.
I wouldn’t blame anyone for slapping on ‘Perished in Torment’ and finding it entirely too ‘laid back’ for a straight death metal album but your average classic death/doom metal fan should have the right level of patience in mind for its very slow and deliberate pace. Early Coffins (see: ‘The Other Side of Blasphemy‘), Krypts, and similarly influenced newcomers Void Rot are reasonable comparisons but the core Grim Fate experience is yet even a bit more sluggish and less complex in its rhythms than any band I might suggest compares. The addition of session drummer Danny Boonstra, who also features in members other projects Dimæon and Burial Remains, really brings the band’s ‘old school’ death metal influenced movements to life compared to the stifled feeling of their EP. No doubt it’ll be hard to shake the feeling that the riffing is plain once you’ve sat through a full spin of ‘Perished in Torment’ and finished it off with the 10+ minute death/doom closer “The Final Day” but that’d take for granted some of the more clever mid-paced arrangements along the way. “You Will Rot” is a particularly strong indoctrination into the strengths of Grim Fate, lessons learned from Abhorrence and other obscure death metal obscurities over the years, with its slow-motion opening and break into a memorable faster paced death/doom section. The riffs are there, the rhythms are sharp and the mix balanced well enough considering, but it is the passion of their delivery that is primarily missing on ‘Perished in Torment’.
An album this thoughtful and sharply designed can redeem itself from a lackluster ‘attack’ by managing some exceptional string of impressive ideas or at least one or two particularly resonant songs. For my own taste an appreciable couple of songs (“Abominations”, “You Will Rot”) stood out in my mind as pieces conceived with a clear and now professionally achieved point of view, each are heavy and sinister death/doom metal infused pieces that manage to experiment with different tempo and style changes without veering too far beyond their previously established path. “Perpetual Anguish” would eventually key into the main reason I’d become so infatuated with this record as it’d reminded me heavily of the first Amorphis album, an undeniable classic in my opinion.
It should be clear by now that if you’re looking for punishing speed, wild tirades, or any sort of accessible or ‘modern’ death metal sound you won’t likely find that you’re looking for. With that said, again, the doom inclined fandom will feel right at home with the slower pace of songs like “Perpetual Anguish” and much of the album by association. A few of these six songs are a bit too similar to one another, the bass guitar is far too buried, and most importantly there is the sense that Grim Fate are too steadfast in their orthodox vision of death metal and ‘holding back’ a bit. This undeniably gives ‘Perished in Torment’ a certain strength or, fumbling charisma when considering its impressive stylistic focus. Dark, murky, Krypts-esque death metal is undeniably my thing this last decade or so and because Grim Fate have pulled off their debut in that style without any egregious errors in its design I’d end up giving a moderately high recommendation of this record.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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