You’re stuck underground. You’re in the bowels of a dark, damp, rotting cave with no way out, oxygen becoming scarce, and your panic level grabbing you by your guts. You can hear a sound in the distance, muffled but building, and it sounds like anything but your rescuers. No, what’s approaching you has its sights set on your blood and flesh, and what can you even do to survive?
While that might sound like an unsettling dream from which you wake up screaming and covered in sweat, or even that scene from “Fellowship of the Ring” when the orc army was about to attack in the Mines of Moria, it’s instead the vibe I get from Edmonton’s Dire Omen, a filthy, nasty death metal band that sounds as primitive and disorienting as they come. This is another strong signing for Dark Descent (who will be represented again on these pages later this week), who have given us a steady feed of the best and burliest of underground death metal bands. This one follows down the path of last year’s Paroxsihzem album, and also could serve to enlighten those whose music rotation involves heavy assaults from Mitochondrion, Portal, Antediluvian, and Incantation.
For “Wresting the Revelation of Futility” being the band’s first full-length effort, they already have a vicious grasp on what makes their band tick and stomp over the thousands of pretenders in the death metal hive. Their sound is buried and scuffed up by noise, distortion, and purposely low-grade production, and everything they do feels utterly brutal, easily making you miss just how interesting and inventive the band is as well. Guitarist/vocalist Rolando Rodas, bassist Connor Thompson, and drummer Kevin Trueblood sound like a thick shadow coming at you at your most vulnerable, looking to inflict damage over the long term and caring not for your cries. Rodas’ vocals are an equal part of the din, never dominating or even leading the proceedings and always acting as an intimidating element of the band’s sound delivering the actual threats.
“Here and Hereafter (Overture)” might sound like it’s going to ease you into the record like some fabulously unfurling introduction, but that’s not the case. The track is mucky and grimy, with the drums mauling and chants being exhausted like poison. Then it’s into “Onwards With Wounds of Disillusion” that begins with a slower but incredibly heavy pace, dizzying melodies, and the churning vocals underneath all the madness that you practically have to concentrate on solely in order to fully absorb. The band grinds away hard, with the music feeling smothering at times, and the sense of blanket-thick darkness in unavoidable. “Ossuary” begins with heavy chugging and bass work that is spastic and bouncy, which you might not expect from a band of this ilk. The riffs are strong and meaty, and the music swirls all around you like a swarm of insects. “Hemotically Possessed” is bled into, with blurry guitars leading the way, a weird pocket of playing that sounds deranged, and hellish maiming from the vocals, as Rodas lurches his way through the track. The sound pokes and prods at you, testing your anxiety, and chant-like howls and noise sprawl right into “Servus Sevorum Dei,” a smoldering track that could choke you with its smoke. The drums clobber without relent, the growls sound oppressive and buried, and the guitars twist and smear into your bloodstream.
“Foretold Untethering from Existence” is messy and horrific from the start, with the band playing heavier and faster than they have on the record to this point. They keep pushing the gas pedal, with raw fury boiling over, the music building like a terrible storm, and the drums once again destroying. “Beyond Stillness” instantly instills dread, with the band completely annihilating everything in front of them, including your senses, and the vocals sound like they’re emanating in steam form from a demon. The leads do a fine job doing massive amounts of damage, and the pace finds that extra push into speed again, leaving you in the dust. “Convulsing Before the Vacuous Altar” sounds exactly like its title. There is a strange, bone-chilling vocal recitation that starts, feeling pastoral in the darkest sense, before the song blows apart, spraying shrapnel everywhere. Along with all of the aggression come some very interesting melodies and ideas, practically standing as the world’s most violent form of prog. The leads are intelligent, the vocals gruff, and the song achieves maximum carnage. “Inversion of Samadhi” is smothering but also satisfyingly thrashy, giving you the chance to bash your bloody fists against the wall. There’s a sickening, nauseous feel to what’s going on here, making you want to dump your stomach while the band is flaying you, and the music spills itself all over the map, never letting you in on where it’s going next. Finale “Closing the Portal” also sparks thoughts of prog metal, but it lies beneath a million tons of burning earth. The track is calculating in sections, like the band is picking its spots to strike, and it’s the one song where outright brutality is not the goal. OK, the vocals still sound like they have only death in mind, but musically things soar, float, boil, and rain down, proving a breath of atmosphere in the middle of a liquid tar pit. It’s not an easy journey, and you’ll feel the toll of the adventure once the album fades.
Dire Omen are that force in the dark coming to pull you away into the unknown and, most likely, to your final resting place. I feel that with every visit with “Wresting the Revelation of Futility” and love the infernal, sooty sound this band embraces and uses as an engulfing mechanism. Nothing here is pretty and easy, and everything is full of hellacious madness designed to deface. They’re here to drag you under, never to see the sunlight again.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/direomen
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/