Paean to Suffering: A Review of ÆVANGELIST’s “Writhes in the Murk”

2009
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Tremble mortals and despair. Doom has come to this world.

Almost one year after unleashing the abominable Omen Ex Simulacra upon our meager human frailties, ÆVANGELIST have returned from their imprisonment deep within the aether, and like the ravenous Ogdru Jahad, they have once again laid claim to our souls and minds. You may remember my previous discussion of ÆVANGELIST as an otherworldly, eldritch horror dreamed of only within the most nightmarish cauldrons of our most tumultuous night terrors, but I doubt even my paltry attempts to describe the inexplicable have prepared you for the overwhelming and amoral terror that awaits.

Enter Writhes in the Murk. Like some twisted Nephilim, both accursed and blessed amongst men, the enigmatic beings responsible for the atrocity that is ÆVANGELIST, Matron Thorn and Ascaris, have put forth a mysterious, horrifying, and enthralling release. Lashing together the disparate elements of blackened bleakness, brutal death metal, glitchy, tortuous electronic chirps and buzzes, and demoniacal utterances of agony in the blackest alchemical rites, the cloaked acolytes of ÆVANGELIST have crafted the perfect Frankenstein’s monster of extreme music. ÆVANGELIST excel in creating sonic avalanches of noise that are both enthralling and nauseating. However, and I may be sealing my fate by uttering such blasphemy, Writhes in the Murk is significantly more accessible than Omen. It is difficult to discuss this album without comparing it to its predecessor, so I would strongly advise that you subject yourself to their previous effort before attempting to engage Writhes.

Similarly to Omen, all of the band’s trademark extra-dimensional brutality is intact. The signature infernal drums that hammer and batter like an alien siege engine still bludgeon your consciousness on every track. The tormented growls and demented banshee wails still sputter and skitter on the periphery. The heavy, chugging guitars still drag you deeper and deeper beneath the blackened tides. However, beneath all that extraterrestrial terror is a beating human heart, albeit one that seemingly made a Faustian pact for malevolent power and dominance. There is a breadth of emotion much more evident on this album than Omen. While the previous effort was an exercise in terror, Writhes drowns you a pool of mortal despair. The plaintive cries and samples that coalesce on every track (especially “Ælixir” and “Writhes in the Murk”) convey sorrow more than Omen ever did, as though the band captured the last breaths of victims choking on quicksand. The tone and overall atmosphere of the album is brooding and grim. If Omen was a portrait of the primal fear of our realm being invaded by a ruthless demigod, Writhes is the soundtrack to surrendering to the interlopers and the hopelessness that ensues.

A key feature in setting this album apart from the previous one is the production. The band has dropped the white noise further down in the mix and brought the guitar and drums to the fore. This gives Writhes the distinct quality of feeling more anchored in death metal than the band’s previous work and lends itself to the overall funereal emotion of the piece. The riffs on display here are bizarrely catchy, especially the doomed, ritualistic scales used in “Hosanna” and “Writhes in the Murk.” These sonic offerings, accented by the cascading and syncopated drum rhythms, latch onto your mind like an extraterrestrial parasite careening you further into a maelstrom of agony and ecstasy. But don’t for a second be fooled into believing that the band has abandoned their uniqueness. ÆVANGELIST once again conjure conflicting threads from various genres in the sonic canon, tying in unexpected and welcome progressions. Most notable is the plaintive saxophone that squeals and peels throughout “Ælixir” and the soft, ominous bell that clangs almost unadorned in “Disquiet.” These unexpected elements only lend themselves to the somber tone by providing you brief respites from the chaos before throwing you into Charybdis’ gaping maw yet again.

All in all, this album is simply a continuation of the tome of unholy punishment writ by our alien overlords ÆVANGELIST. The intelligible, even headbangable riffs are a welcome addition, and the new elements welded to the sound only heighten the singleness of this work. If I have one complaint with this album, it’s that my senses were less overwhelmed with terror than they were when I first heard Omen Ex Simulacra. Still, you cannot resist the captivating otherness of Writhes in the Murk.

NO FLUSH

You can stream and purchase the album on bandcamp, and be sure to like the band on Facebook.

(Photos VIA)

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  • Great review, W. This one has been making a charge for my year-end list since you recommended it.

    • W.

      Thonks beb.

    • Xan

      It’s really fucking good. I can’t wait to listen to it once again.

      • W.

        I listened to it somewhere between 5 to 10 times before writing this review. I don’t think the big picture really clicked until I had given it multiple listens.

        • Edward Meehan

          I’m impressed with your ability to find the time. Aren’t you still in school?!

          • W.

            I can listen to music during the day, homie. I’m what they call ABD (all but Dissertation).

          • Edward Meehan

            Ah.

          • W.
          • Edward Meehan

            “ABD attrition is estimated as high as 50%”.

            damn G.

            My goal is to be a mostly non-working graduate student, lol. It’s possible!

          • W.

            It’s hard out here for a pimp.

        • Xan

          When I reviewed the new Eluveitie album, I tried writing it after one listen and it was a terrible review. After listening to it about five times, I wrote a much better review.

          • W.

            @masterlordsteeldragon:disqus was the one who gave me the advice of listening to an album multiple times before writing the review. I honestly didn’t even pick up on the theme of despair in the album until I started typing the review.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    This album is just so good. Pretty much everything that Debemur Morti has is great.

    • W.

      True that!

  • Edward Meehan

    W just killin’ shit today, good lawd.

    • W.

      Thanks, dude!

    • Tyree

      Right!? Putting us to shame.

      • Edward Meehan

        Shame is the best way to describe it.

        • Edward Meehan

          … also, a little bit of guilt.

          • W.

            Celebrate your guilt, bruv. It’s a gift.

          • it’ll be a Celebration of Guilt! (Arsis album)

          • W.

            There’s one more metal joke hidden in there. 10 gold stars if you can find it.

          • Gojira, gift of guilt

          • oh sh1t, nice one!!

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            some hard rockin metal n roll from 4 horsemen. This makes guns n roses sound like shit. The singer reminds me of john garcia singing hard rock. Fucking rocks and not in a hair metal way.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKv_YYzdI2w

          • “This makes guns n roses sound like shit” … you never cease to get a chuckle out of me!

        • Tyree

          Indeed…

          • Tyree

            Goddamn broken link! Shakes fist at sun.

          • Edward Meehan

            That flick >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • Tyree

            Steve McQueen >>>>>>>>>

          • Edward Meehan

            What will he do next I wonder? I’m watching no matter what.

          • Tyree

            Good question. He always covers really extreme topics so who knows. I’m sure it will be remarkable.

  • Tyree

    Hopefully tonight I can listen to this while doing some design work. I’m curious about the production on this. Like you said, the white noise was more the forefront in their previous albums.

    • W.

      The production leans much more towards the metal side this time.

  • M Shadows!

    I has scared!

    • Jormungandr

      It’s your fuckin’ nightmare!

      • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

        I’m semi ashamed for knowing that song, but even I partake in M Shadows buttrock when in a drunken haze.

        • Jormungandr

          There is definitely worse shit out there.

    • 406 comments, almost 2000 upvotes. Well done sir.

  • PSA: Don’t listen to this while driving. Especially at night.

    • Tyree

      Oh boy. Did you have some sort of experience while doing this?

      • …….maybe…….

        • Tyree

          hmmmmmmmmmm…

          • Was driving through an area that had a lot of trees that tend to hang over the road and it was raining and this was playing and I have never felt that uneasy in my life. Started speeding just to get the fuck out of that area without even realizing it. Very surreal experience actually.

          • Xan

            I had a similar experience but in an area of the mountains where it seems like the people are all cannibals. There are darker things than orcs in the deep places of the world.

          • Tyree

            Avoiding wrong turns is key in the mountains.

          • Sounds like you need some POWER METAL!

  • NefariousDude

    Tastes great

  • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

    what is this noize?

    • i don’t know if we are cool enough to enjoy this.

      • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

        sounds like my trucks exhaust pipe

      • I didn’t used to like this kind of stuff,but then I met Tyree.

        • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

          awww love how sweet

          • He post so much stuff on facebook that it’s impossible not to acquire the taste for this kind of music if you pay attention to it.

          • i’m still listening. maybe i’ll be hooked!

          • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

            but but archsp……..

          • Don’t worry tech death is still my favorite genre by far, but I can dig this as well.

        • W.

          This stuff is pretty dang extreme, and I feel like we hear at the Toilet are constantly plumbing the depths of extremity.

    • W.

      Perhaps you haven’t imbibed enough goat’s blood to be able to enjoy this.

      • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

        is that a new kind of Keystone?

        • Edward Meehan

          7/10 I smirked.

          • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

            high five brah

  • Stockhausen

    lol u cant evn understnad teh lyricz ,,, wat do u evn listn 2 this 4

    • Stockhausen

      On a serious note, this album is 5,000 degrees of hot, anguished despair raking over my poor mortal soul. I love it.

    • nawt enuff brakedownz
      wut iz dis shyt
      dew theez guiz eevin no haugh two pley derre instroomints?

    • Michael Assbender

      De lyrikz is alrite, smashing riphs is bendable.

    • Leif Bearikson

      Every. Damn. Day.

  • SMOHLG

    These guys are my favorite recent discovery! Great write-up!

    • W.

      Thonx, SMOHLG.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Oddly catchy for a bowel disrupting nightmare.

    • W.

      Yep, those riffs will nestle themselves in your brain.

  • Scrimm

    Dammit why didn’t this post go up BEFORE I went to the record store?

    • W.

      Well, you can order it 6.66 Euros.

  • Howard Dean

    Great review, W! Nicely done! Byah!

    • Edward Meehan

      … and here I am at work also patiently waiting on the next Howard Dean slaughter-fest. Lol.

      • Howard Dean

        Nope. Only love from the Howard. I’ve been extraordinarily busy and therefore distant from the Toilet. I fear I will be for probably another week or so. [frowny face]. Just wanted to check in and see how things were going. I really enjoyed the review. Nice job!

    • W.

      Thanks, man! I would have loved to have read your assessment of the album.

      • Howard Dean

        I would have loved to have written that assessment had I not been mired in the career delusion time-suck.