Review: Horrendous – Ecdysis

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“Ecdysis is the moulting of the cuticula in many invertebrates… Since the cuticula of these animals often forms an inelastic exoskeleton, it is shed during growth and a new, larger covering is formed. [1].”

In layman’s terms, the good ol wiki defines the word as when an insect or other invertebrate sheds its skin to grow further. With their third release, “Philthydelphia” death metal trio Horrendous have cracked open the old shell of OSDM worship and emerged as a bigger, stronger version of itself. Horrendous still has the look of the genre, but the scope is bigger and more vast, and the vibe is something much more sinister.

Album opener “The Stranger” doesn’t so much fade in as shambles in, like a solider stumbling into a rickety house, his body ridden with gruesome injuries from waging war against an unseen enemy. The seven minute plus track takes its time to establish its atmosphere of terror. A creepy spoken word passage later, and the main riff and double time drums explode into action. It isn’t all Dismember style obliteration at all cost though, as little solos are strewn about the song and it often stops to have another spoken word passage. Still, the intensity never lets up. Hell of a way to open an album.

With the following three tracks, the record continues this path of not-quite-pure-OSDM structure. Small elements, such as the slightly off kilter drumming and brief moments of d-beat stomp in “Weeping Relic”, or the B-Dubs worthy groove that opens “Heaven’s Deceit” insert themselves amongst the riffing and soaring leads. Take note: this album has a lot of leads, though they never grow tedious or wear on your senses. The last minute and a half of album highlight “Nepenthe” for example is one of the best instances of a melodic passage in extreme metal I’ve heard in quite some time. This is akin to a sadist rubbing balm on his victim’s wounds so that they can heal just enough for the incisions and pain to begin anew.

In fact, these leads serve to prove a point; that melody is as much a part of the bands genetic makeup as the HM-2 pedals they so lovingly abuse. Horrendous are taking melody in death metal to its natural extreme; this isn’t the watering down of a sound like some would have you believe, this is a different kind of terror. One with a charming face, offering a warm welcoming hand and a smile to you while hiding the chloroform drenched cloth in the other hand behind its back and a ton of syringes and knives underneath its jacket. Dissection understood this, but so few other bands took the lessons to heart when they stole everything else from Nodveidt and company. It is good to see the two extremes blended so well here.

Do not fret however. The band hasn’t forgotten that this is a death metal album. The chilling (see what I did there?) cries at the end of “Resonator” firmly restates this genre’s original purpose to terrify the listener; gore and absolute hopelessness in audio form. It very much feels like the band was saying “We are as scared shitless of the music as you guys” and all of the anguish pours out of the speakers at that very moment. It helps that Matt Knox and Damian Herring are two of the best in their genre in terms of their vocal range and enunciation; the piercing cries that emanate from their mouths sound genuinely blood curdling and not at all goofy.

And then there’s “When the Walls Fell”. After the 20 or so minutes of vicious Stockholm riffage that has transpired thus far, the band does a complete 180, puts away the buzz-saws (and vocals) for two and a half minutes, and get their inner Preist on, guitarmonies and all. It’s in this brief respite that Horrendous best shows their innate ability to absorb the best bits of metal’s bloodsoaked past and carve something new, or at least more compelling, out of it. The track is air-guitar inducing trad-metal goodness but still unmistakably a product of their own. Horns up, fellows.

The record does have two flaws though. The first and most glaring are the song lengths. Only two out of the albums eight tracks go past the five minute mark. I understand Horrendous wanting to trim the fat and make leaner songs, and other bands of this ilk could certainly learn from this disciplinary tactic (looking at you Tribulation), but the band’s music wasn’t “fatty” to begin with. The offerings on “The Chills” were just the right length without overstaying their welcome. The mature songwriting combined with longer length could make for something truly special next time around. But as they are here, you will not be bored, but rather hungry for more bloody meat. This somewhat leads into the second flaw; the remaining two songs aren’t as strong as what came before it, though album closer “Titan” is notable in that it is a very mournful sounding dirge. The victim has crawled through the muck and escaped the filthy catacombs and its unspeakable landlord; covered in blood and grime, missing an eye, a couple of fingers, and maybe a kidney, but still very much alive. They have went through a painful unenviable ordeal, undergone a transformation and came out stronger for the experience.

Overall Ecdysis finds Horrendous, screeching with righteous youthful anger, crawling out of the cocoon sporting a new pair of wings. I have no doubt that in about ten years people will talk about them with the same reverence that they speak of Dismember and Dissection now. Or rather in ten years the band will be leading a swarm of huge powerful grotesque flying creatures much like itself, devouring all in its path.

NO FLUSH

(top quote via)

(Photo via)

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  • This is a great album. Am I the only one that thinks the vocalist sometimes sounds like the pissed-off lovechild of Chuck Schuldiner and Martin van Drunen?

    Killer review, Sir Phoenix.

    • Antonius Block, A Knight

      You good sire, are not. I thought of van Drunen immediately and can hear a definite shade of Schuldiner as well.
      A killer album and a grand review.

    • Simon Phoenix

      Thanks. And you’re not the only one who hears it. When it comes to OSDM, I’ll always prefer this style of vocals.

      Van Drunen>>>>>>>>

  • Death

    I’m feeling a 7/10 on this one.

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      About half is killer, half is filler

        • Death

          Funny how that band never managed to pull it off.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Surprising how much easier an all filler no killer is.

      • Simon Phoenix

        I don’t know about in a row. If you couldn’t tell, When the Walls Fell is one of my favorite tracks on the album and that comes in the second half. Heaven’s Deceit is probably the weakest song IMO.

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          For me, after The Stranger the album falls into a low and doesn’t really get up til Nepenthe.

        • JWG

          I can’t help but hope When the Walls Fell is a “Darmok” reference…

    • M Shadows!

      HellO

  • Tyree

    Hahaha! D-Beat and D-Dubs for life!

    • CyberneticOrganism

      FUCK YEAH MY BRO
      *slams two beers on way to work*

      • *hits on receptionist*
        *tells her awesome pickup line followed by an ass slap*
        *trips nerdy mailroom guy and simulates locker-check*
        *gets to office, pounds two Natty Ices, feet up on desk and queues up BangBros*

        • CyberneticOrganism

          *claims loudly that his dad is the CEO*
          *peels out of parking lot at 60mph*
          *takes three hour lunch break at BDubs*
          *comes back hammered, has open beer in pocket*
          *humps computer in front of cute intern*
          *goes home at 2:49*
          *plays bags til dusk*
          *plays Madden til 1AM*
          *calls in sick next day*

          • *wakes up at noon to a few bong hits*
            *crushes a Four Loko Watermelon and leftover Papa John’s*
            *calls mom to pick up his laundry*
            *shows up at happy hour to harass cute intern*
            *goes to slip her rohypnol but accidentally spikes someone else’s*
            *collects noggin from the 60 year old, incoherent HR lady*
            *kicks her out at Checker’s drive thru*
            *rolls coal in her face as he peels out*
            *calls his bros to resume Madden marathon*

  • This is very awesome. Nice review.

  • This rules. Jamming/10

  • Further Down the Metal Hole

    Not a big fan of the vocals, wish they were less raspy, gritty or whatever you wanna call it. I’m really liking the music overall though.

  • Stockhausen

    This one’s a grower for sure. The pre-release tracks didn’t captivate my soul quite how I wanted, but repeated listens gives a nice package quality to the whole album.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    awesome cover art—something “above”
    an “event” unto itself
    as real art becomes apparent–thru the guitar that everyone always knew was the actual voice–but were always told that something “inferior” was the current—-

    but it was always this—soundtrack to shedding skin/bones—and refining of energy impulses

    into something stronger—–from even perhaps the seeds of illusion–and heretofore just coming into view
    a thirst for blood destiny/astral appettite—-overcoming it’s illusions—and the vision of the unholy grail

    into true identity

    • Stockhausen

      I understand who I am now.

    • I KNEW it was Blood Destiny that I was thirsty for.

    • There once was a man from Calcutta–
      Whose dick was so sharp it cut butter–
      Till he met this fine lass–
      Tempted him with fine ass–
      FINISH HIM!!
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      Fatality of dick by bolt cutter.

      • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        just like jesus said…

        also with technology—chicks have access to way more different ways —it’s good that they generally like us—some times

        • Some times, indeed…. I will never argue that. m/

        • M Shadows!

          Hai!

    • you’ll never know how many upvotes you have w/o creating a profile. i bet it’s in the thousands!!

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Whence my soul, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz? Whence?

  • RustyShackleford

    Awesome fucking album. Yep!

  • IronLawnmower

    Yeah but is it MEAT SHITS?

    http://youtu.be/5Sh_0Fsn1-M

    • Tyree

      Yes!!!

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I hear this guy in there

  • Paris Hilton

    This album is ALMOST as good as my instagram.

    P.S. You’re welcome, Conan
    http://instagram.com/p/ugiYriqgCS/

  • W.

    This was a fantastic review, my man.

  • JWG

    I’ve been waffling on getting this album off of Bandcamp. I’m sold.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Great review, Phoenix! 0/3 seashells