“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for.” Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Who am I, if not my gut? — Vision fading black as the white-popping din of static fades in ear, these symptoms of catalytic awakening that’d (potentially) offer radical insight into the choice between self-preservation and an open examination of ‘death-like consciousness’ are of little cause for alarm. Call it preparation of the psyche or fringe guitar excitement, the near-death experience of death metal is almost always borne from our ever-settling wavelengths of trauma, openly exposed as personal appeal to the estrangement of existential dread amongst a species with no culturally viable will to conquer, only to fester. We may reassign attention to earthly matters as pure death metal attunes a new-found realism into innate order, either by structured classicism or for the sake of an experience we could approximate as an unified consciousness, but the majority do not worship any ‘church of death’ or cheerily anticipate the cessation of the corporeal — They gather together solely for the purpose of shaking off the daily waking “hangover” of existential nihilism. The eucharist itself is a rejection of cultic belonging, communion often little more than plainest acknowledgement of absurdist rot as we enter the dissolving, grief-realized bilge of Decrepisy‘s debut full-length, ‘Emetic Communion‘. Erosion of being becomes a desire beyond imagined sensorial experience as their doomed death metal lure churns ancient soil atop freshly aligned bodies, a traditional burial without the major distraction of nostalgia to cheapen our necessarily slow-descent upon death.
It will likely take more time relaying the resume of the folks involved in Decrepisy, and why they’re all notable folks, than it will to state up front exactly what ‘Emetic Communion’ sounds like. I’m not above it, eh. Formed in early 2020, we are not privy to any certain demo or preparatory stage in the advent of this Oregon-based project only the collective reputations involved and some of their prior (or current) work together in various death metal projects sustains the hype for what these four fellows have managed together. Perhaps most notable in terms of influence upon Decrepisy‘s sound and relevancy to his past projects, guitarist Kyle House (Acephalix, ex-Vastum) seems to be one of the key songwriters here alongside guitarist Jon Quintana, bassist Tim Lower from Grave Dust and accomplished drummer/engineer Charlie Koryn (VoidCeremony, Ascended Dead, et al.) who is likewise in Hell Strike with Quintana and provided session drums for Grave Dust. So, we’ve got folks directly involved with some of the better death metal out of the Portland area of late and we could safely assume a crunch-heavy ‘old school’ death metal sound overall but House‘s guitar work combined with Earhammer Studios‘ nuclear touch makes for an album that will inevitably be compared to Vastum for its big, ballsy sound design and doomed ‘Onward to Golgotha’-esque dynamic.
The sludgier side of Finnish death metal meeting up flush with the crawl of early Incantation will always more-or-less default (in my mind) to the revelation that was Disma back in the late 2000’s (see: ‘The Vault of Membros‘, 2009) but we can tangentially get whiffs of Blaspherian, Cruciamentum and even Grave while sourcing the rotten-throated, mid-paced churn of Decrepisy‘s debut. Wailing whammy-shaking solos and slow doom metal riffs threaten to muddy up the waters here with a truly traditional death metal album but, as previously suggested, the neatness of the render keeps ‘Emetic Communion’ from serving up classicist mud entirely. The caustic movement and gutter-tuned stomp of the full listen initially renders a horrific decompositional hole a la Desecresy in some regard but, the production is far too professional to leave even a second of this record sounding anywhere near as raw or obstinate as that comparison might suggest. It’d be fair at this point to pull the trigger with an ungainly ‘bigger picture’ observation and suggest that ‘Emetic Communion’ is a death/doom metal album, though I would admit this won’t be a “given” to all of classic death metal fandom. At 35 minutes we’re faced with four songs (+ an outro) averaging eight minutes with “Abbatoir of Sorrow” being the grand finale outlier at ten and a half minutes. That is to say these are mid-to-slow paced pieces that fill their runtime with plenty of dynamic movement but generally stick within extremes that are closer to Ceremonium (or ‘Patricidal Lust’, even) than anything too insistently mid-paced. Whether or not you’d end up accepting such a tag, a fine example of ‘new old school’ or some manner of timeless USDM is the major takeaway as we crack into opener “Dissipating Form”.
Cutting to the quick of it — If you’re elite as fuck and a death metal lifer, you’re probably not going to find anything you’ve never heard before on ‘Emetic Communion’, it is a death metal album made for the love of death metal that slams into a specific pit of despair and provides a good balance of ominous, dread-filled atmospheric death metal thrills and satisfying as Hell chunk-riffing. The spectacle of the full listen is the creeping n’ killing rhythm guitar work, the phrasal capability of the two guitarists whom present riffs and rhythms just as the best of the old masters did: As long-form sentences that peak and drag along in a display of tortured poetic value, brutal yet self-effacing displays of grotesque movement leaning into the pain of dissociation and (to some degree) chaotic ruin. “Embodied Decomposition” is the deepest, lung-popping hit of this to my ear but I’d say each of the four main pieces here are created equal in their neatly written arrange, shifting from riff-to-riff, mode-to-mode with reason and precedence applied to every movement. None of this would be such a feature in mind if the split of the guitar tone wasn’t so perfectly ripping, hitting the growl of the low end and the scrape of the riffs themselves with brilliant clarity. I do think the bass guitar performances are somewhat blended via the applied distortion (see: “Emetic Communion”) to the point of dry sludge but this generally allows the pro-arrangements between Koryn‘s always confident drumming and the dual guitar setup to meld into a true state of co-sublimation. As foreshadowed, “Abbatoir of Sorrow” is arguably the main event there and best showcases the vibe and greater style expressed throughout ‘Emetic Communion’, catching its elaborate introduction before the cleverness of Decrepisy‘s mid-paced riffing locks us into the full ride, sending us off with unsettling The Last of Us clicker noises at the end of the piece.
So, in terms of recommendation the most obvious and biggest markets for this record are spread between Vastum and Disma fans, myself included, who will lock into this vibe and let it rip for days before it commits to memory. I’d easily fallen into the full listen and have consistently enjoyed it without a moment’s annoyance but, without finding it to be any more or less remarkable than several other records I’ve got in this style. I could go on for days explaining why this record rips but Decrepisy‘s debut won’t knock anything major league off my shelves just yet. A moderately high recommendation.
Life After Death,
Seed of Doom [EU]
|RELEASE DATE:||August 6th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp|
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