OF FEATHER AND BONE – Sulfuric Disintegration (2020)REVIEW

The aurora of the abstruse, entangling light and mutilating life. — Accept mercurial, fiery self in conscious betrayal of that which would serve unification of body, soul and spirit. In their place wield ones passionate three-pronged defiance as knife and caustic azoth to slice and seed the wounded “dark of the soul”. Paracelsus’ guidance of sacred and continuous fire via cryptic mention of all manner of “philosophical heat” in the nineteenth chapter of his vital monarchia might be seen as loose practicum or stern musing yet (in direct context) this section represents a major crescendo within this key work within Hermetic Chemistry (1894). There the harmony between humans and nature piques most insistently in suggestion of science purposefully aligned with spiritual naturalism. Well-documented deduction might be the greater takeaway for the intellectual successors who’d divine key methodology for achieving repeatable results (uh, in search for the philosopher’s stone.) That which would turn metal into gold should be taken as parable or indirect symbolism for achieving power through impassioned, methodical craft or profession. Wealth is not all that one can wield upon the indignant; Poison and curative is not all that the alchemist aligned with natural philosophy can achieve. Sulphur and air bind us, sulphur and air without our vessel creates intense bluest fire. Of course I am being self-indulgent, the suggested ‘Sulphuric Disintegration‘ in the hands and minds of Denver, Colorado abrasion-fueled death metal band Of Feather and Bone is that of boiled corpses, Christ melting in eternal Hell and a voraciously grinding guts-hunger for bodily desecration. Yet our earlier lesson bears some merit, there is no denying the passion of this latest creation in context of their greater body of work — It is yet the most succinct and profound crescendo by their hidden hand, a closely held fire unleashed in full.

Although Of Feather and Bone have been around for roughly eight years only the last four or so represent their most definitive choices made in terms of style and with that said, ‘Sulphuric Disintegration’ is yet an evolution beyond their well-received second album (‘Bestial Hymns of Perversion‘, 2018). Due to this ever-shifting reality another pass through their back catalogue won’t earn much perspective yet if you’d like a cursory, somewhat flippant dig through their hardcore/crust punk and sludge-ridden daze early on my review of the previous album exists nonessentially. I’d no truly solid gauge as to what Of Feather and Bone were trying to do on their debut, a vaguely Swedish guitar tone and plenty of aggressive drumming landed somewhere between Stockholm’s grimiest underground, Disgrace‘s debut, and early Incantation in my ears. The slower pieces typically had the most impact but at ~35 minutes the blur was strong enough as it blasted by that I’d felt it just above average as an experience. Where does this lead us on the third album? Sacrificing variety for the sake of directionality and achieving satisfying justification for an even more succinct record in the process.

More bluntly put, this one is (generally speaking) more “brutal” and features a sharper production job which lands closest to their live presence. This is key because when I saw the band live they were far more harried and pit-of-the-stomach heavy whereas the debut had a lot of people comparing their sound to that of groups like Tomb Mold and Gatecreeper… despite all three groups sounding absolutely nothing alike, 2018 wasn’t a sub-genre unto itself. Upon approach you’ll recognize the musicians themselves, particularly the drummer’s heavy hand, but ‘Sulfuric Disintegration’ is not plain iteration. Of Feather and Bone have delivered a raw, brutal and ever blasting synthesis of classic death metal strokes delivered via a war metallic engine setting their current sound closer to that of bestial skull-borers like Ruin Lust, Pissgrave, and Ascended Dead overall. There are some grinding Infernal Coil-esque riffs here and there, and absolutely heavy-plowed hits of ‘Mental Funeral’ when things slow down on “Noctemnania” (and the middle of “Entropic Self Immolation”) but most of the six song, half hour run arrives in chunks of 5-6 minute blast, grind, and riff horror always in service to infernal violence. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the full listen, getting over the idea that Of Feather and Bone sound like a hardcore/death metal hybrid and realizing they’re shooting for their own twist on bestial death metal. It helps that this goal is better clarified within the experience, just make sure you give considerably raunchy stink-eye to anyone suggesting these guys sound like Gatecreeper or whatever.

When I first fired up “Regurgitated Communion” no doubt I’d had a brief “holy shit” moment as Arthur Rizk‘s render of their revamped skeleton grinder guitar tone hit about as hard as ‘Posthumous Humiliation’ had in his hands the year previous. Of course the finer points of ‘Onward to Golgotha’ and such do factor in but the first impression is death metal with war metal appropriate drumming. It is a considerable feat to keep this sort of song going for 4-5 minute bursts much less with any reasonable riff variation firing off and this is where I’d find the greatest strength of Of Feather and Bone thus far, packing that wallop and going somewhere with it so that the rush of brutality maintains momentum. The finest balance or, best modulated feat of momentum is probably the aforementioned “Entropic Self Immolation” which recalls a certain period of Embrace of Thorns when members of Dead Congregation had joined, inserting a wealth of death metal tonality to an restlessly evolving war metal group. The album doesn’t necessarily relent from this point but as we hit Side B the general pattern of Side A emerges via the eruption of “Consecrated and Consumed”, the blasted-then-doomed balance of my favorite track on the album “Sulfuric Sodomy (Disintegration of Christ)” and then a rapacious tunnel towards the finish line. I don’t at all get why they’ve decided to cut things off there but the album starts, ends, and contains nothing but high points as every song kills. Throw in one death/doom crunch to end the album or whatever and I might be singing a keener reaction but overall I cannot fault Of Feather and Bone for what they haven’t done — What they have done is yet remarkably heavy, generally memorable, and full of riffs I’ll definitely want to return to before the end of the year.

‘Sulfuric Disintegration’ offers the pristine, uncomplicated essence of Of Feather and Bone with undeniable performative conviction and always stellar riffs; Their hammer of brutality initially appears too succinct but this becomes a virtue as the battery of dungeon lunging riffs and tunnel-roared horror becomes all the more potent by virtue of caustic sounds and sublime brevity. In this sense the chaotic battlefield and bodily scarp of alien hell illustrated by Stewart Cole (Rotten Realm Art) for the cover art is entirely appropriate, a feast of overloaded scraggly forms that focus into a terrifying scene with some thoughtful observation. Of course I am a glutton for just a bit more excess, only when I stood back and admired its greater edifice sans spire did ‘Sulfuric Disintegration’ win me over. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Sulfuric Disintegration
LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records
RELEASE DATE:November 13th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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