We begin exploration of the macabre endtyme reality built by Edmonton, Alberta-based death metal quartet Begrime Exemious musing on apocalyptic cults and the impending doom of our world of man as a sort of reconciliation of the increasingly grotesque, nuke-threatened and body horror enriched thrash metal narrative of the mid-to-late 80’s, itself resolving the post-industrial era existential dread of a pointless, war-torn future for western civilization posited by post-1982 hardcore punk. The logical next level ante-up in their late 80’s styled blackened death-thrashing module becomes a fixation on the end, or, if you’ll excuse the cliché, the sense that death is just the beginning. In view of their entire discography spread across seventeen years of grittiest thrashing nuclear death’s depiction the world of man has now canonically ended… yet the unburiable will to live ensures human suffering continues well into the void. ‘Rotting in the Aftermath‘ is in this sense a cruel barrage of undead horrors from beyond the grave as life goes on, and on in an ulterior morbid fantasy narrative which takes us from the clutches of villainy to the depths of Hell, awakened within an insane mind and teleported unto tombs hidden within the stars themselves.
Assembled as a quartet in 2005 but occasionally ballooning into a quintet since Begrime Exemious have never appeared calculated in drawing hard distinctions between various sub-genre norms though they’d developed a personalized form of extreme thrash metal guided, death metal structured and black metal gilded music from a fairly clear point of view from the start. Their first demo (‘Demo‘, 2006) and the EP (‘Set Ablaze the Kingdom of Abraham‘, 2009) that followed already expressed those core traits in plain sight yet their style was a bit slower and seemed entirely focused on 80’s death metal and 90’s black/death metal traits as a basal reference for taste. Longtime fans of Dark Descent Records will note that these guys were one of their first all-in signings and their first album (‘Impending Funeral of Man‘, 2010) would kick off a string of releases through the label that continues to this day.
Apart from the interesting trivia of Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride having done the cover art for that first record the big deal with Begrime Exemious‘ debut was that it’d amalgamated a variety of influences that’d lined up well with classic (read: early) North American black/death metal traits — the thrash-leaning side of Absu‘s ‘Third Storm of Cythraul‘, the steadier 80’s black/death morphosis of Order From Chaos up through about ‘Stillbirth Machine‘, and the slower side of earlier Sacramentary Abolishment though we lose the sort of Celtic Frost informed ideation of the riff when considering the larger discography of that band (and related) versus Begrime Exemious‘ less blazing-hard gig at that point. Though future releases would expand into various points of stylistic coloration and improve upon their steadfast do-it-yourself production values that debut was the essential blueprint for all that’d come afterwards. Their least interesting release from my point of view, ‘Visions of the Scourge‘ (2012), featured the band at their rawest with notably venomous vocals vomited alongside a general heavier push of their sound and beyond that point ‘The Enslavement Conquest‘ (2016) would be the one to secure the band’s signature sound once and for all, including a choice aesthetic.
Bassist, turned guitarist, turned guitarist/vocalist Derek Orthner (Falsehood, Azath) had been the missing link, the hand to guide the greater vision of the band into place on that third record. His understated rasp-and-growl ranting atop Autopsy/Finndeath-esque guitar runs, Bolt Thrower-readied melodicism, and the curiously 80’s indeterminacy between extreme thrash, black metal and death metal which we can ideally just call death metal at this point became an official -thing- in those hands. The right palette was set into action therein by way of a shade of modern droning avant-black metal influence curling up over their edges on slower pieces. ‘Rotting in the Aftermath‘ never intended to change that formula, at least not drastically, and the band has essentially pressed on directly from that high point herein. The suggestion is that they’d written most of these songs by 2018 and scrapped the initial recordings for the sake of road-testing and refining them ’til recording the final ideal circa 2019. Beyond that point the reasoning for a couple extra years of delay eh, should be self-explanatory.
My time spent with ‘Rotting in the Aftermath‘ has been defined by the a cinematographically set lens-curved distance between the riff, the delirious scenes depicted in the lyrics and my own excited reaction as a riff-enjoyer as the album echoed the compressed, violent reaping of late 80’s thrashing death metal supremacy in mind but… in an eerie, chainsaw-happy modern way throughout. It’d initially brought up visions of when Desaster covered Razor‘s “Cross Me Fool” where the core of the song isn’t necessarily a pure heavy metal tune but a narrative mutation of punk’s reckless rhythms (most often found nested in die-hard underground mid-80’s thrash) which when sped up and coupled with black metal affect essentially grows arms to swing with, grooves which carry an ancient sort of playful momentum rarely replicated today in even the most ‘throwback’ groups. In the case of Begrime Exemious it takes use to an early war-metallic crunchiness without going full-bore Angelcorpse and instead echoes the mean, wild aggressive grooves of (again) 80’s death metal. All that means in practical terms is that fans of Necrophagia‘s first record, Deceased, and such will essentially ‘get’ the major appeal of this record from the first strike of opener “Cruel Mistress” with its buzzing, well-telegraphed riffs.
Where the band take their sound beyond past works comes with some updated overall fidelity. Though the bass guitar tone is still loosely articulated for the sake of the rhythm guitar work it’d seem they’ve tuned down and matched each presence into a satisfying growl which ends up making the rocking, kinda swinging whip of “Breach the Stronghold” sound far more mean than it would without the ringing chords bent in to interrupt every couple of verses. Not exactly the frantic kinetic wheeling of ‘Seven Churches‘ but still very much in the spirit of that lineage. The first three pieces on Side A catch that momentum and run with it, showing hints of their slower, more brooding edge here and there but fully dropping the curtain into the death metal mud with “Infected Mind”, a groove with a psychedelic tail which only gets more twisted as it continues to burn. If you’d felt like pacing was an issue with ‘The Enslavement Conquest‘ it’d been remedied within the extra credit work done in the years between as some serious attention has been paid to the flow of this thing front to back.
Side B is a bit thicker, a bit faster and seems to be a call for even more active and varied drum performances throughout as longtime drummer L. Norland (Revelator, ex-A.M.S.G.) runs the gamut between “Regressive Divisions” and one of my favorite songs of the lot “Galvanized (Like Nails)” as we get more direct hits of early 90’s death metal grooves and some clearer strikes of black-thrashing rides. Again this album creates a sense of extended threads which interlock the songs without actually doing so, striking at it the way a frenzied group of death-thrashers would once their yellowjackets and cheap bear had kicked late in a touring cycle, the final straw being punkish the late album buzzer “Planetary Crypt”. The adrenaline of the full listen comes to a head at that point and this sort of peaking section of the full listen definitely had me ready to hit the record up for a repeat before it’d even ended, and this despite it not feeling like a ‘riff’ record so much as it is a translation of many forms into rabid grooves and hard-wheeling feats of momentum.
Overall I’d like to hear more from the band in the slower, deadlier style of songs like “Diseased Mankind” and “Infected Humanity”, they’ve got an ear for hanging dread-toned pieces which seem like they’re about to lean more ‘Monolith‘ than death/doom or ‘Retribution For the Dead‘ and it catches my ear again and again even if they never go there. Even without fully extrapolating more than a mood from those slower pieces it does end up feeling like Begrime Exemious have generally reaped solid rewards from taking their time with this fourth record, its ~37 minute attack feels like a ghostly sprint through a nuclear graveyard in half the time and thanks in no small part to the frequent action they push into every second of the spin. If there can be a reasonably smooth connection made between morbid thrash, thrashing death, and mohawked black-metallic violence which still lands extreme, authentic and uncompromised it is certainly found here within the primally kicking exaggerations of ‘Rotting in the Aftermath‘. A high recommendation.
|TITLE:||Rotting in the Aftermath|
|LABEL(S):||Dark Descent Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||July 8th, 2022|
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