ESKHATON – Horracle (2022)REVIEW

Though we are handed the smoking skull of total death worship from the very moment Melbourne, Australia-borne death metal band Eskhaton strike into their latest mLP we cannot consider their work absolute chaos with any too-literal meaning in mind. Though it is inherently noisome and physically abominate, theirs is a work entirely driven by psychosis and rawest destructive tendencies, yet the experience does not add up to meaningless movements. The state of irrational confusion in response to exposure is unquestionably limited to the experience of the weak, the frail-eared and maladaptive sort. A bestial end-time prophecy narrated within sensational disaster, a horrifying din which causes awful sensorial bristling to no end, ‘Horracle‘ captures these folks at their most dogged point of assail, feeling the heat of a burning world and relishing in the slow-collapse of humanity from their green-hot nuclear thrones.

Vocalist/guitarist Invokocide technically formed Eskhaton in 1999 but it wasn’t a proper studio ready gig until late 2008 or so when the core duo (incl. Whirlwindead) found a suitable drummer in Hammerkill. You’ll notice by the stage names that this is a bestial death metal band and absolutely one spawned in an era of peak brutality shared throughout all forms of true extreme metal. Theirs is a molten-charged sound fed by the furor and inventive whirr of the mid-to-late 90’s death metal and likewise enhanced by the cavernous, hateful churning of atmospheric death metal in the late 2000’s. All that these era-specific markers should mean to the average fan is an indomitably brutal approach which remains cognizant of riff-oriented ‘old school’ death metal yet presents a next step up in extremity, a violence which overtakes and overwhelms the listener without fail. Though I wouldn’t say I went through the history of the band as in-depth as I should’ve back in 2019 for my review of their third full-length album (‘Omegalitheos‘, 2019), that core observation of Incantation-esque atmosphere fed into a chaotic war metal adjacent style they’d previously described as “psychotic death metal” is yet intact. At the time I’d suggested their sound was impressionistic, bleary in its render of rhythmic forms a la Blasphemophager and ‘Death‘-era Teitanblood to some degree yet for this mLP they’ve called it “cyclonic death metal” and I think they’re onto something in that regard.

Eskhaton occupy an unusual, imprecise location between chaotic and heavily atmospheric brutal death and grinding bestial/war metal though I’d stop short of a black/death metal tag generally speaking. The martial early Krisiun-esque kick of the drums on “Khaossuary” offer one of many not so subtle differences which receive a monstrous whipping-about within their maelstrom of explosive sound which dominates the mind and disorders all thoughts within the longer, more satisfyingly hellish 6-8 minute songs on this EP. Those longer pieces aren’t out of the ordinary here and there on previous releases but the band typically varies their output with shorter one minute grinders and their steadiest attacks hit around the 3-4 minute mark. This changes the effect of listening more than it does the tone of Eskhaton‘s work, landing with an oppressive and ear-piercing hiss of cacophonic noise which rarely presents an “in” or entrance within the eye of the storm, we are always feeling the full force of their aggression even if they do hit some of their slowest pieces herein. It is numbing, willfully extreme and definitely painful as a full listen.

Vortexecution” is the big and blazing godhead of the release chopped off by a steel plate whipping by at two-hundred miles per hour (~321 kmph, for the uncivilized) as a twisted windchime is strangled quiet by the wind and sure, I wouldn’t blame anyone who’d previewed it and found little more than bruising and brutal nonsense upon first impression. You could stop right there and be correct enough but sitting with Eskhaton‘s psyche-punishing whorl of dread for a few hours should at least reveal some bigger picture structures, plenty of ‘old school’ death metal techniques drilled at too extreme speeds ultimately appreciate the generation of their own uniquely scuffed atmospheric values. “Aftermathemagician” exemplifies this as a solid three minutes entirely in feature of this atmosphere in full bloom. The major reason folks will want to grab this album generally lies within the violently wheeling yet detailed stretches of riff which define opener “Omnicidol” and the exhausting closer “Nethereal” which comes complete with pitch-shifted belched vocal terror ripping across the skyline and some of the most frantic, brutal performances from the band’s rhythm section to date.

Though I cannot guarantee all listeners will find any value, or, any sensical rhythmic thread beyond their own immediate pulverization within the half hour of ‘Horracle‘ I will suggest that longer, involved and dynamically charged pieces suit Eskhaton‘s irrational nature very well. The massive spectacle created will charge the minds of folks interested in everything from turn-of-the-millennium blackened death to brutal death and bestial/war metal beyond and likely stick in mind for the sheer destruction created. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Horracle [mLP]
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records
RELEASE DATE:November 18th, 2022

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