Old dogs, olde tricks, auld untreated rabidity — Between Painted Doll, Violation Wound, Siege of Power, and the steady return of Autopsy this last decade or so, no doubt we’ve gotten more from death metal’s premiere gore astronaut Chris Reifert than ever since folding Abscess but it’d take Grammy award-winning engineer and recent Autopsy detainee Greg Wilkinson (Brainoil, Deathgrave, et. al) to get the ol’ brain swelling up with what’d turn out to be a pretty wild, probably somewhat impromptu idea. From what I’ve gathered ‘Labyrinth of Veins‘ was largely written and partially recorded (via a ‘mobile production unit’) between the two musicians when the opportunity to rent out San Francisco’s tenderloin fixed historical venue the Great American Music Hall for a few days presented itself during the second year of pandemia. Though they’d likely been rehearsing and working together on pre-production for Reifert‘s main project for some uncertain amount of time at that point, the idea that Static Abyss was borne from a chance to write off the cuff and run off instinct in a unique aural space lends it a certain uncalculated honesty — a simplicity that speaks to a love for these noise and grime artistes making good use of a very real space, filling it with ugly and insane death metal racket which arrives on a primally satisfying level.
‘Labyrinth of Veins‘ is about as much of a death/doom metal album as ‘Mental Funeral‘ was in the sense that the slowest, most dramatically stated lunging horror-ranting pieces stick in the mind most heartily upon repeat listens. The duo have kept the pacing largely mid-to-manic in its movement with Reifert‘s performances gelling naturally with songcraft that lands somewhere between the noise-guitar soaked zombification of Wilkinson‘s Leather Glove and the crumbling insanity of Anatomia, the slower pieces on offer (see: “Labyrinth of Veins“) bearing a sort of ‘Into Darkness‘ cinema to their crawl. Side A in particular emphasizes this death/doom adjacent meandering most heavily but there are, eh, meatier head-charging kicks (“You Are What You Kill”, “Contort Until Death”, “Morgue Rat Fever”) all over the full ~40 minute rub of their efforts.
The full listen here probably shouldn’t be spanked with a dread-inducing “meat and potatoes” death metal tag, there is far more personality on offer than that, but it’ll make sense as an initial observation, especially if the greater signature point of view from each musician isn’t well-explored on the part of the listener. Having the context of each body of work and supposing that they were working on instinct and “what sounds cool” for this record ‘Labyrinth of Veins‘ centers its spectacle around Wilkinson‘s knack for effects-heavy run-on leads second and Reifert‘s incredible vocal work first, with the riffs themselves measuring in and out of the foreground without any truly body-high bristling results beyond the aforementioned dabble with doom. It made for a listening experience that’d been all hype to start and a sort of simple merger of two personal styles that’d begin to fall off my radar after roughly ten or so listens. At some point the leads lose their ear-wriggling effect and the major gait of the album, the gnarly madness that they’ve served up thick, becomes the reason to stick around and join the street team.
Though the sense of unearthly ‘place’, a high-definition hammering at the blood-slicked heart of a body braced cathedral of gore, found within is enough of an achievement to start I figure the whole idea will go somewhere weirder, or, more out of character in the future. But hey, for now Static Abyss have served up what you’d expect from the duo’s pair of mile-long resumes, a nutso-smasho sort of ‘old school’ beaten death metal record with a surreal edge to its atmosphere. If you are like me and have some extensive familiarity with both folks’ work and appreciate the sort of knee-jerk idea of just, I dunno, making a damned death metal album in a few days there’ll be some good times to pull from ‘Labyrinth of Veins‘ as it hasn’t been overwrought or polished up for the sake of the lowest common denominator. A high recommendation.
|TITLE:||Labyrinth of Veins|
|RELEASE DATE:||April 22nd, 2022|
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