Though their collective resumes suggest a motley gang of unlikely fellowes from the Belgium extreme metal underground, the result of Slithering Decay‘s first full-length communion reads as accessibly melodic-edged and jaggedly imperfect Swedish-styled traditional death metal. ‘Aeons Untold‘ doesn’t stray too drastically from orthodoxy within its roughly forty minute bulldozer of HM-2 harassment, in fact without a legacy-attuned ear for specific strands beyond the norm throughout death metal history it might even land as fairly rote upon most ears. To the contrary of what surface-level examination might offer, when given due time and attentive listening to its strongest first half we eventually land upon a record that bears serious consideration for an ideal balance of overdriven punkish clobber and melodic death tirades with some reasonable conviction. A fine debut to charge out of the gates with.

That isn’t to suggest these guys have everything figured out in terms of any sort of elaborate or original composition, perfect recording fidelity, and/or buttoning up the rhythmic map enough to land as clean as major label iterations of this sound but, I would suggest that Slithering Decay have a lot to offer fans who don’t turn their noses up at inspired, tangential takes on this classic Swedeath sound. If we can excuse the Boss HM-2 sized guitar crunch and speedy d-beat spanking sections in most songs we begin to see the carved markings of folks who’ve brought in various sensibilities from their own life experience. First, vocalist and guitarist Jörgen is best known for his still-strong twenty year station as the fellow behind pagan black metal band Theudho, a project I could rattle on about for ages but, the important note here is his ability to craft theme-matching tonality in vast and dramatic compositions. Co-guitarist Niko comes from likewise unlikely climes after several years in brilliant and idiosyncratic ‘old school’ extreme doom metal band Tyrant’s Kall, traditional and twisted beginnings. The rhythm section features ex-members of brutal death metal band Storm Upon the Masses and this brings in a sort of overzealous feeling to the pacing, coming unhinged on a few songs (“Doomsday Prayer”) and blurring Slithering Decay‘s sound away from stiff-necked professionalism. I scour through the band members’ collective histories to vaguely suggest what unusual and harried traits this band resembles by nature, a feeling which rests as a seed within their sound for the sake of a sort of ‘outsider’ nature that pleasantly avoids the self-conscious spirit of bands that are way too in tune with the latest HM-2 sportin’ trend chunk.

A relatively new band formed as a quartet in 2017, there is the sense that Slithering Decay are in the midst of cracking away at their first block of marble for this debut, journeymen who’ve chiseled a few incredible pockets of detail within a forgiving medium via an uncomplicated and easily recognized sound. The barbaric nature they lead with is deceptively simple in presentation, though, as the melodic hand begins to reveal itself on songs like “Orgy of Flesh”, opening their sound up to a Fleshcrawl and Dismember attuned dynamic where brutality and melodicism achieved their highest rates between the late 90’s and mid-2000’s. The sub-three minute grace of “Embedded in Hollowness” presents this ideal in the plainest of terms, shuddering into those Maiden-esque leads as if by muscle memory. This is nowhere near as sophisticated melodic integration as we might find in Obscure Infinity or Wombripper today but “Internal Dismay” hints that Slithering Decay are on the cusp of finding their own path to this balance of aggression and austerity. Side A really sums up everything that I find satisfying about what this band does in terms of Swedeath modulation and the progression of melodic ideas is subtle yet characterizing to start. Where I being to lose interest is the kick-off for Side B.

Striking right into an updated version of “Psychotic Decay”, a track that’d closed the ‘Demo 2018‘ release which’d introduced the band to the public, the tone of ‘Aeons Untold’ changes to a sort of amateurish grind, hurling a few death n’ roll crawls and an almost artificial drum sound that for whatever reason hadn’t been as noticeable prior. The central guitar riff and its rising progression feels fiddly, less heavy than anything before it and this carries over into “Verminous Flood” as well. The dynamic between these two songs is repeated for the next two that follow, a sort of dry redundancy that doesn’t present any important differentiation until “Doomsday Prayer” pulls in some alien keyboard sounds to start, distracting from the seeming shortage of riffs (and ideas in general) that comes in this second half of the album. Strong as the first side of the record is, the potential on display slowly dissolves within under-thought pieces that bring little to the experience as a whole. To be fair, only a couple songs are outright skippable and the whole thing grinds out into a decent listen after all is considered. I cannot fault a death metal band for doing the best they can with what they have, the full listen is modest and ranges from grand inspiration to “just ok” works. Although I don’t think Slithering Decay were a hundred percent ready for a full 40-minute album it isn’t an offensive result and they’ve plenty of potential on display throughout. A moderate recommendation.

Moderate recommendation. (70/100)

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:Aeons Untold
LABEL(S):Testimony Records
RELEASE DATE:May 21st, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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