ÓSSERP – Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la (2022)REVIEW

The lament of inconsequentiality festering within ancient, opportunistic apocalyptic cults passed on within meagerly adaptive spawn only reads as incurable mental deformity today, a few thousand years of delusion yields an ever-growing heat at the napes of these inbred-thinking types generationally denied the transcendence they beg from their supposed creator on a daily basis. Sisyphean obsession with rapture, salvation, and great purges prophesied have offered little more than pornographic death-worshipping fantasy for these deranged lot and to the point that the list of preserved great works of heritage and humanity is entirely stacked with Christian relics of martyrdom and marvelous apocalyptic traditions. Civilizations longest indignant under the thumb of pederast pageant Catholic rule surely know the true face of Death’s cult best, their cultural history rife with annual recitals of our most final toll, the light of their false God burning away the Earth itself imagined warmly as if it were a well-sparked hearth in the cold of winter. It is from this tradition that we receive the core thesis and turn of phrase introducing the third full-length album from Catalonian grinding death metal band Ósserp, whom portray the new songs of prophesied apocalypse with their own brand of thrilling severity. Viewing the mislead and morbid follies of humanity’s obsession with eternal life as an twisted self-fulfilling prophecy of doom easily seen upon the horizon today ‘Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la‘ cannot seem to shake the sorrowful deterministic turn taken, the momentum of the end in sight, and the struggle to survive which impinges upon us all year-over-year. It ends up being the right sort of propellant thought to best serve their uniquely evolved form of deathgrind-adjacent metal unto increasing, admirable finesse.

Ósserp appears to have formed after the demise of Barcelona-based grindcore group Crani Sèptic in 2013 with folks from death metal groups Cruz, Morbid Flesh, and Bocc who’ve featured in the line-up over the years since. Their first EP (‘Sota el cinturó d’Orió‘, 2013) was essentially a Swedish death metal influenced grindcore record with some heavy use of second and third generation crust patternation for effect. This was echoed more-or-less directly on their debut LP (‘Sang i Sutge‘, 2015) which’d been notably influenced by d-beat, grindcore and wielding a stupid loud and crushing Boss HM-2 overdriven guitar tone. That first album earned the band a reputation as a sort of wild abomination of metalpunk, and I suppose I mean that in a good way when we consider the still outrageous admixture of death metal and crust punk found on unforgettable songs like “Bèstia cega”. It’d be fair to view that first record as basal signature achieved and the releases beyond that point a more confidently wielded multi-genre mastery.

Though the mid-2010’s hadn’t quite been the peak of “Entombed core” oversaturating the planet, and these folks certainly weren’t considered a typical example but, I think it would be fair to say it wasn’t until Ósserp‘s second full-length (‘Al meu pas s’alça la mort‘, 2017) that they’d truly landed upon something worthy of the absurdly high expectations of death metal fandom. This is especially true if we consider their mixture of traditional 90’s death metal amplified therein by mosh metal chunking about, some mutations of “neo-crust” guitar work, and a melodic black/death nod or two as their crew once again aimed for a loud and large modern render. We could consider it a defining moment for a band with many facets and the record most folks would remember best at that point. In the case of their third and well-anticipated longplayer we’re generally in for a “heaviest yet” lean into their ‘old school’ death metal and deathgrind influences, but of course knowing the band’s modus up ’til this point we can be reassured that the experience won’t be plain or too straightforward.

Before getting too lost in the minutiae of ‘Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la‘ it is worth stating up front that this is a ripper, a deathgrind burner that hits fast and satisfies without any sort of deep thought or analysis necessary to its enjoyment. That isn’t to say that the muse which guides them today should be overlooked, though, as Ósserp spent five years at work on this record making sure they were able to check every box necessary for a world class, top of the line release which was clearly meant to count, to leave a crater. The thought here initially centers around the feeble Catholic notions of eternal life, using a play on “El Cant de la Sibil·la” (“The Song of the Sibyl”) to present an album which all but directly points to the Christian cult’s obsession and incantation of apocalypse as self-fulfilling programming for its followers. We could delve into fourth century poetics, St. Augustine, and the tradition of the Sibyl (prophetess) in Greek antiquity for provenance but most of it’d merely explain the imagery of the album art and the play on words used for the title of the album. The important thing is the connection made between the Christian cult of Armageddon and their assured fulfillment of the end of the world. Ah, and the album has riffs, too.

Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la‘ is immediately marked by its contemptuous tunnel vision and the void posited as it machine-guns away at opener “Cavalcant l’Ossa Menor” rescinding the typical crunchaholic Swedeath machine noise for a more cinematically set piston-pulsed guitar tone, roaring with a no less heavy dose of overdrive but now even more readably fuming beneath the crisp edges of the lower end. This should read as death metal at face value, these are 4-5 minute songs and quite involved pieces overall yet Ósserp have always carried a sort of third generation grindcore edge to their tempo map which’ll immediately spark the interest of folks who’re well-versed in the realm of Nasum, Afgrund, and Dephosphorus. This isn’t the only mode of motion employed by the band across the length of the full listen but it is a strong enough indication of the inventive brutality that shapes itself within those 40+ minutes. Blasting ensues, some blackened death nodules appear (“L’Engany”) amidst a few highly kinetic quasi-industrial, doomed horrors (“El Pes del Buit”) as the band colorize and extrude this apocalyptic theme.

For the riffcraft and brutality obsessed Side A primarily catches the attention with its opener but truly compounds interest with the excitable, soldiered arm of “Tot Crema”, which served as the first major spark for my interest as it naturally throttled into the key divergences to be found on “L’Engany”. The inspired level of detail available to these two pieces might be too much to practically parse into words but at the very least I’d suggest Ósserp have brought each song into view not only with performative excitement expected from death metal, grindcore and hardcore influenced forms but given each song a memorable construct which could only develop properly within their 4+ minute death metal structuring. We’ve learned the general language of ‘Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la‘ by the end of Side A with “L’Abraçada del Destí” finally getting a shade of their modern crust interest finely inlayed within the piece. Here I think we can shift the obvious, impatient “five years later…” thought on the release towards a paradigm encouraging these fellowes to absolutely take their time again because this release is clearly some of their finest, most inspired work to date. In fact, much like ‘Al meu pas s’alça la mort‘ the wealth of ideas injected song after song eventually becomes almost too overwhelming to consider in summation.

From that point on we’re thankfully served some purely enjoyable variations, wherein some heavier punk and doom kicks clash righteously in presentation (“L’Home en el Laberint”) and Ósserp essentially play the Endtime fantasy out with strong vacillation between deathgrind blazing, death metal/hardcore bustle (“El Rival més Fort”) and an sort of halfway there cosmic blackened sluiced finale with “Lluna Negra”. It isn’t that the album fizzles out in the end but that it avoids overstating its sound by basically peaking in the middle, working through a few more clever ideas and cutting out as close to forty minutes as possible. They found the right point to loop back to the high energy of the album’s kickoff and kinda roped me into several more listens by way of front-loading that first half and leave the deeper cuts for me to appreciate later. The grand finale of the apocalypse isn’t necessarily as grand as you’d expect but the album is necessarily forceful with its best and brightest musical ideas up front. Though it might appear uneven to start, pressure up front allows for the momentum of the spin to naturally flow beyond the first half and this’d made for an easier and more repeatable experience than the previous two records from the band.

Ósserp have impressed here with a logical step up overall, slightly grittier render and keenly modulated guitar tone aside the detail of compositions reaches for a certain high aptitude, highly kinetic form of death metal which makes stunning use of varietal influences for a wildly entertaining ride. It might be a grower for many, as it was for me, but once I fully knew what ‘Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la‘ was all about I was well hooked on its trip. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Els Nous Cants De La Sibil·la
LABEL(S):Eternal Juggernaut Records,
Kremón Records,
Catábasis Records,
Hecatombe Records,
Lost Merch,
Brutal Arratia Records,
Cruzade Records
RELEASE DATE:August 19th, 2022

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