The Big Fat Mouth Review - March 2014
The Big Fat Mouth Review - March 2014
UNHOLY SOUNDS FROM UNHALLOWED GROUND I: THE INFERNAL SEA/OLD CORPSE ROAD - “INSIDIOUS ART AND SERPENTINE RIGHTS” (SPLIT 7”)
Those of you who know me, know that whilst I’m perfectly happy to review whatever crosses my desk… eventually (sorry Ten Ton Tabby, I will get to you soon!), what I really, REALLY like to listen to is the kind of noise that could strip the flesh from bones and curdle the milk in my tea.
As such, imagine my delight when this doozy reared it’s (horned, scaled and maggot-riddled) head. The Infernal Sea are the kind of music that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, like the moment you hear footsteps from upstairs when you’re seemingly home alone.
After an eerie, extended intro of creaking old wood, chanting and ominous whispers, ‘Tannis Root' kicks in proper - and when I say 'kicks in', I mean it. The drumming on this track, courtesy of James Burke, is fucking INSANE. Dude not only sounds like he has four arms and seven legs, it sounds like he’s being chased very fucking fast by something very fucking scary. I found myself breaking out into a giant shit-eating grin of pure glee at just how downright nasty it is (probably not exactly the desired effect, but I somehow doubt TIS are going to complain too much).
A stench of Dissection and Belphegor at their most misanthropic infects the technically inventive instrumentation in general, the guitar work bringing to mind Enthroned when they pick up the pace, whilst the general atmosphere touches on the introverted misery of the finest USBM and Voices frankly mesmeric ‘From The Human Forest Create A Fugue Of Imaginary Rain’ (featuring former members of progressive BM visionaries Akercocke). Vocally and lyrically it’s precisely what you’d expect - no bad thing, who really would want to hear The Infernal Sea sing about getting dumped or unicorns or some shit anyway? - spite and bite and Satan in equal measure; indeed, listen closely and you’ll realise that ‘Tannis Root’ is a riff on classic chiller ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, complete with “HAIL, HAIL, HAIL ADRIAN” as the titular antichrist is spawned. A return to the doom-laden atmospherics of the intro along with the squalling nails-to-spinal-chalkboard sound of the coming world-devourers infant squalls brings the track to an end in malevolent and potent style.
Grotesque, and I absolutely fucking love it!
More symphonic, but no less evil, Old Corpse Road do away with portentous introductory passages and plunge us headlong into their own brand of audio devilishness; folk elements and whorled synths shudder malevolently through ‘The Sockburn Worm' like the dying spasms of a throat-cut sacrifice to forgotten and callous gods. The difference between the two bands is stark, neatly sidestepping the split release trap of having the two halves be too similar, yet sharing enough common (desecrated) ground to not be jarring. It's the commonality of ground that gives the 7” cohesion - you're unlikely to be lifting the needle til it's done, whichever blackened flag you happen to favour.
'In the Nightside Eclipse' meets Hecate Enthroned is a good place to start here, with more than just a dash of Primordial-esque pagan ancestor worship for good measure. Lyrically, Old Corpse Road are intriguing; taking influence from old British and Celtic folklore to deliver an altogether different kind of darkness, steeped in old forests and shadowed caves - indeed, 'The Sockburn Worm' was a wyvern of myth that plagued Country Durham in days gone by; fine fare, you'll agree, for immortality in (a really fucking nasty) song. Not hard, really, to see why they would release a split a couple of years back with the equally verminous and folk-flavoured Meads of Asphodel.
Acoustic passages, spoken word, death metal growls and high-pitched screams (check out in particular the grotesquely extended one right at the start, and be careful with that axe, Eugene) all go into the bubbling cauldron, but with a mastery and ease that doesn’t make the track feel scattershot or crowded; indeed, the narrative nature of their storytelling extends to their songwriting too, making ‘The Sockburn Worm’ feel like a tale told around a campfire refracted through a prism of solid, unyielding obsidian and intense sonic battery.
Both of these bands are absolutely at the top of their game, ploughing their own coterminous yet individual furrows in the UKBM underground to richly deserved rave(ing mad) reviews. As such, it’s no surprise to see that Terrorizer magazine have thrown their considerable weight behind both of these bands as ‘ones to watch’ in 2014. If you’re a fan of metal that’s blacker than the smouldering ruins of a church in 90’s Norway, do yourself a favour before they inevitably get picked up by those bigger labels in the know and check them out NOW.
VERDICT: For me, ‘Tannis Root’ just edges it by the tip of a bestial horn, but both of these tracks are 100% worthy of inclusion in the collection of any serious appreciator of UK black metal. For the unconverted, this isn’t going to get you burning churches, but it is succor indeed for those of us with long-gone souls.
"Insidious Arts and Serpentine Rights" is released in April on orange vinyl through Three Swords Records, and is limited to 250 copies. You can buy it here:
You can listen to a preview of both tracks on the Three Swords Records bandcamp page here:
Your humble scribe makes no apologies for any injuries suffered as a result of listening to such glorious filth.