Cosmic Putrefaction – The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers (2020)REVIEW

Whistling through the vacuous, thinning air and leaving a slow-descending spray of mercurial blood to hang precariously in the dark — A single swing of his makeshift aluminum carbide-bonded ceramic knife bears a lifetime of cursed wandering in escape of ghastly ultra-dimensional horrors. Divined by the ancestral psyche of a species scorned, this curse begets the sojourner eternal witness to the collapse of light and life in the universe. No enlightenment, no wisdom, only the ever-intensifying anxietous calamity of the horrified mind in view of massive death arrives in witness of the horror of infinite collapse unto utter void, a damning personal ritual disaffected and extant outside of time. The blood and it’s psychotic curse still hangs in the air one year later as the prisoner in solitude is crushed of spirit and shaped into newly disemboweled yet heroically singular freeing form. Milan, Italy astral-projected and multi-talented musician G.G. (Summit, The Clearing Path) snaps out of stasis in doubly determined and violently rapturous spirits with this exceptionally crafted second full-length from his premier death metal project Cosmic Putrefaction. Witnessing the macrocosmic horror of the universe and microcosmic Hell developing on Earth at once strengthens the cosmos-sized expansion of his ever-studied ear for cutting edge yet tastefully depicted death metal aggression. The unreal pitch-black worlds conjured within the unregulated swarming of ‘The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers’ represent true and tumor-free mutation into a freshly achieved ‘next level’ for the project, an insatiable transcendental scrying event.

Brutality storms forth with new horrors in mind, more liquid within its gutting rage and deeper entranced by a custom-designed war mantra. To revisit the abrupt and insistent violence of Gramaglia‘s stunningly achieved debut (‘At the Threshold of the Greatest Chasm‘, 2019) is to recall the highly pressurized world of death metal this previous year where the ramp into view was incredibly steep among a seemingly endless surge that’d not seen its peak of new releases until early-to-mid November. Although I’d ramped up the scrutiny for the sake of achieving something constructive within the review for Cosmic Putrefaction‘s debut it was nonetheless one of the most compelling death metal releases of the year, a brutal yet intuitively woven thread of celestial-minded death. Despite the debut’s on-sleeve ambitions to expand into more experimental realms with time it does come as a satisfying surprise to find its follow-up oozing with blackened, progressive, and avant-structured movements that’d serve to generate some additional verve and vibe along with all manner of smaller improvements to the musician’s exceptional craft.

‘The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers’ is cut from a similar cloth as before though thankfully it doesn’t feel built directly off of a template for the previous album. The style is nonetheless relevant to ‘new old school’ death metal projects with similar science fiction derived themes such as Blood Incantation‘s more brutal Timeghoul-ish side, Warp Chamber‘s space-vacuum riffs, and the most recent Tomb Mold foray. I wouldn’t say they fit snugly into that box of records, though as a few slips into later The Chasm ah via Suffering Hour‘s full-length leave a slippery, blackened touch to a few of these tracks that escapes the void of technical sci-fi brutalisms just often enough to feel distinctively textured in their greater combination. “The Glooming Murk of His Telluric Shrieks” is a fine example of this blend in strong motion, convulsions of avant-dissonance are light but the swerving dance they provide adds strong directional nuance to an otherwise brutal, forceful and high-tension piece that caps off Side A. Compositions have generally doubled or tripled in length making for an easily repeated six song, ~35 minute tumult compared to the more frantically achieved nine song ~28 minute reality of ‘At the Threshold of the Greatest Chasm’. In more succinct terms Cosmic Putrefaction finds an impactful maturation point beyond the prior effort by way of more involved and varietal pieces.

What major change comes on this second album beyond its deeper threads and more exacting sound design/render is perhaps my favorite aspect of this release: Gramaglia‘s voice leading the charge and providing emotive and (again) intuitively arranged vocal patterning that expresses with deep bellowing roars and void-fearing rasps. This not only lends to the thoughtful affect of the full listen but provides some strengthening character for the project as a whole. This ability to take on every aspect of the music is frankly another point towards the musician’s admirable ability to conquer challenges, such as providing fitting and above-par vocal performances, and adapt to suit his greater vision. With entirely grateful sincerity, I was so pleased to have the lyrics on hand for this release. ‘The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers’ is perhaps more of a narrative event rather than a concept album as what is conveyed is essentially a lucid dream or, recanted astral projection experienced by a being in search of a proverbial crown or, I suppose literal diadem while taken on a cosmic trip that extends for eons. This eventually manifests into a broader spiritual quest that cannot resolve without wisened insight from the actor. Witnessing the end of all known and shareable things expressed on “Utterance of the Fall of Man” by way of a sci-fi soundtrack apropos symphonic adornment finds the most intriguingly warped atmospheric death metal song on the album closing things out in unforgettable fashion. Dark as the future is at present, some great excitement stirs within me imagining how far G.G. will potentially blur Cosmic Putrefaction outside the lines on future releases as the currently raised bar evident on this release (as well as implied future growth) is yet a wild and inspiring thought to cultivate.

Beyond those broader stylistic strokes, ambitious narratives, and thrilling performative gusto it is of course the smaller, better-hidden details that sustains any death metal album hoping to live within the mind. This is where I currently see the most massive growth, and likewise some great potential for even more endearing ruptures in the future. Perhaps the most powerful bout of death’s flagellation on the full-listen, “This Landscape Sublimates Oblivion to Obliteration” provides vitally placed momentum and some inherently brutal-yet-complex waves expected of the project but just before the 2:00 minute mark a stargazing break eases that launch and prepares the mind for a burst of more technical guitar work. It might sound like a fairly average dynamic shift for the concerted death metal listener but in practice is provides a powerful wave of attention-grabbing yet subtle activity on section of the album that’d otherwise be easily deemed relentless. In the span of ~35 minutes those waves of redirection add up and serve as parts and pieces that help make the case for a special and worthy record that is far above average in its expression. This is the sort of brutally-struck cosmos-affected death metal I’ve pined for more of since the early the 2000’s so, I am undoubtedly here to support its cultivation so, if you aren’t inclined towards the Timeghoul and Mithras leaning spheres of death your enthusiasm may vary. Undoubtedly a worthy step beyond previous work, this second Cosmic Putrefaction release deserves a high recommendation.

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Artist Cosmic Putrefaction
Type Full-length
Released May 22, 2020
BUY & LISTEN on I, Voidhanger Records’ Bandcamp! Cosmic Putrefaction on Facebook
Genre Death Metal

High recommendation. 4.5/5.0

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