If you’re reading this, you likely enjoy metal. I know, right? What a revelation. Well, if you do, someone likely has said to you while hearing something you had playing, “This music sounds like someone is dying.” And you’ve probably had to respond something like, “Really? You got that from Amon Amarth?”
Well, if you’ve been through that before like I have, you should revisit that conversation. Only this time, play that person “Patterns of Failure,” the debut from terrifying Chicago-based doom killers Venowl, and watch the poor bastard’s face turn white in no time. Now this is music that sounds like people dying. Badly. Over a long, torturous period of time. That might not sound very enjoyable to some, but if you like infernally scarring metal like I do, it’s bound to give you hours of crazed fun and mentally warped madness. It’s a noisy, disturbing, sometimes baffling record comprised of three tracks that continually grinds your face into the dirt and makes you taste blood. Then it screams indecipherable nonsense into your face, frightening you because of how little you understand the message. Other than the part where you’re screwed.
Venowl’s debut initially was released in 2012 in incredibly limited number, with fewer than 100 even pressed. So if you have your hands on an original copy, congratulations. Luckily, Broken Limbs is putting out the album on cassette (again, in small numbers, as only 100 are being made), and the music has been remastered by one of the most important members of the noise doom scene James Plotkin. The mysterious, shrouded band members, who simply go by ][, II and ::, have a number of other releases to their name, some of which were recorded in one horrible take just to give you a deep understanding of just how distressing their sound is. But it all starts with this first full-length, a record that should warm the dead hearts of the most ardent Khanate and Sunn 0))) fans.
The record begins with the disturbing 17:55-long title track, a song that’ll drag you over glass and force you to watch as your blood is smeared over the ground. Feedback wails heavily, and deep waves of drone wash over everything, leaving the scene completely blackened. The animalistic growls and howls begin, and they never, ever smooth out on this song. Or this record. The vocals always seem like they’re emanating from a dying soul, crying out for mercy only to be kept alive so the suffering can continue. The music remains scary and deranged, with doom boiling over and causing strange humidity, while the noise buckles again and leads to more pained howls. “Hung Alive By the Ribs to the Gallows,” a really uncomfortable sounding situation, opens with strings rumbling and lurching doom arriving. More feral shrieks rain down, sounding like hungry, ghostly forces fighting to the death in the woods somewhere, and the serving is just pure hell. The whole piece feels unhinged and terrifying, and if you happened upon a scene in real life that sounded like this, you’d run the other direction in no time.
Then oppressive, 27-minute closer “The Bounded Are Loathed” lands, with noise ringing out and the feeling like villages are being burned, with its inhabitants dying alive. The drubbing goes on and on, poking at funeral doom and really not changing its tempo very much at all as it slowly spills over the Earth’s crust. Noise and static are whipped into a frenzy, hanging above everything like a venomous swarm, and the cries, shrieks, and blood-curdling wails keep coming at you without relent. The song feels every bit of its 27 minutes, but that’s not because it drags. It simply inflicts so much punishment, mostly mentally, that you might feel like you need to take a breath. But if you’re like me, you won’t end up taking that break, instead committing to this panic-inducing, rabid chaos that continues to strangle the senses until it finally relents and lets you perish.
Certainly I encourage you to explore all of Venowl’s work, which you can find on their Bandcamp below, but this one is their first full, manic step. That it’s finally back for a limited engagement, with a remastered identity, is a major plus and a giant opportunity for any doom fans who don’t just live for the riff but also want unbridled violence. This is a difficult, demanding listen that might scare even the burliest of doom fans, but if you can make it to the other side, you’ll be better for off for all the heavy scarring you suffer. And you will suffer.
For more on the band, go here: http://venowl.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://brokenlimbsrecordings.com/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://brokenlimbsrecordings.com/