Finnish death metal is in a state of complete conflagration. By that, I don’t mean it’s burning to the ground and turning to hellish dust. Instead, that country’s output is getting hotter and more volatile, giving the world hope that maybe one day when people mention the metal that comes out of Finland, Children of Bodom won’t be the first name off everyone’s tongues. We can dream.
Dark Descent has had a gigantic hand the last couple of months in exposing the best of what the Fins have to offer the death metal world. They unleashed crushing new records from Maveth and Desolation Shrine, two albums that were released so late in the year, they likely never even made it to consideration for most people’s year-end, best-of lists (when are those compiled? October?). But both gave a taste of the scorched, destructive sounds that were brewing in Finland, and now the label’s latest release is getting in on the fun of making Finland seem like the home of outright brutality (Woodcut Records is handling the Euro version, by the way).
Vorum’s debut album “Poisoned Void” has a very fitting title, because that’s where you feel like you’re headed listening to this eight-headed monster. With only an EP and a split effort to their name before this thunderous release, it’s surprising how sharp this band’s teeth are already. They sound properly channeled, polished from a performance aspect, and completely bloodthirsty and hungry for devastation. They’re not exactly reinventing the wheel, but they sure are finding a way to make today’s death metal machine run bloodier and uglier and are righteously trying to wrest the genre away from melodic, overproduced bands that get passed off on listeners. This is the real shit right here.
Vorum grew out of the band Haudankaivaja, as three of its members are present here, including guitarist/vocalist Jonatan Johansson, guitarist Mati Jalava, and drummer Mikko Josefsson. They are joined by bassist John Finne, and they hit the ground roaring on this album. They wisely keep this album on the shorter side, with eight songs that generally blast you in the face and get out in a hurry, with only its closing title track running longer than 5 minutes (it’s 7:09). That makes for a leaner, meaner record that has a better chance of sticking with you. And trust me, it does.
“Impetuous Fires” is your introduction to Vorum’s tumultuous world, as churning riffs and fiery playing, combined with Johansson’s vicious growls, set the pace for the record. “Death’s Stains” gets started with dizzying guitar work and then shifts towards thrash metal a bit, though it remains grounded in death through and through. “Rabid Blood” pretty much tells you what you know from its title. You don’t need to do much imagining, yet you’ll still be overtaken by charnel guitar work and the raspy growls that are Johansson’s trademark. “Thriving Darkness” keeps the bloody whirlpool going, as melodies flutter, and the guitar lines hit the gas pedal and burst into speed.
“Evil Seed” is one of the gnarliest songs on here, as it grinds when it opens, it has a simple, memorable chorus you can growl back with ease (of course your throat will hurt later if you’re untrained), and Johansson brings down the coffin lid with a thud when he howls, “In chaos, we are dead.” “Obscurity Revealed” seems to pay homage to classic Slayer at times, and it also shakes your bones with a great vigor. It makes a penetrating path through your mind and is awash in heaviness. “Dance of Heresy” hits some trance moments and eventually blows up into a death spiral. The 7-minute title track is a blistering finish, with a crusty open, some classic metal threads, and an earthquaking double-bass drum assault that sounds like marching into war. In sections underneath the song, there is something that emerges that reminds me of very early Metallica at their hungriest and most determined, and the song crashes out wonderfully at the end, leaving a trail of smoking ash.
So Vorum’s the latest in our line of Finnish death metal bands, and they show that this country has real promise in helping revitalize a genre that’s gotten way too glossy and friendly. I love their passion and their anger and their willingness to get as ugly and gut-busting as possible, and I dig their penchant to blend in other elements into what they do. These guys have a ton of potential, and I’m really interested in hearing album two.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.vorumdeath.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/