PICK OF THE WEEK: Horrendous at completely different level with thrash-minded smoker ‘Anareta’

HorrendousA band truly coming into its own is a fascinating thing to experience, that is if you’ve been along for the whole ride. Meeting up with a band when they first start and following their peaks and valleys often ends in maximum enjoyment for the listener when that true breakthrough moment strikes.

Horrendous have been making serious waves in underground death metal with their take on the old school philosophies they have twisted to meet their modern needs. They’ve been a band on the rise, and in a pretty short amount of time, forming six years ago and already having developed a sterling reputation based on their output. In fact, last year’s “Ecdysis” was a high-water mark for the band, a record that opened up a ton of ears to their style and one of 2014’s most inventive and interesting metal albums. But now comes “Anareta” barely more than a year later, and everything has changed again. That high-water mark? Yeah, it’s at tsunami level now with this new collection that, all the hyperbole aside, could find itself remembered as a modern classic that broke the band onto a new level.

Horrendous coverWhat we have on “Anareta” is not just an exemplary death metal album; it’s one of the most lively, colorful, fun records to come out of the sub-genre in a long, long time. In fact, if I can mix sub-genres for a moment, much of this new record makes me imagine of what “Rust” era Megadeth and, say, “Human” years Death could have conjured had they mixed together their influences. The playing is absolutely top notch and breathes furious fire, and the band—guitarist/bassist/vocalist Damian Herring, guitarist/vocalist Matt Knox, drummer Jamie Knox—never have sounded this channeled and deadly before. It’s a joy to hear (weird to say about a death metal band) and gets even more intriguing the more you explore the thing.

“The Nihilist” begins the record with guitars arriving, wild howls taking hold, and the song hitting full launch. The riffs are nice and crunchy, while the tempo gets trucking, and the guitars seem to race each other. There are some great exploratory sections, a quick moment of reflection, and then another burst, with howls of, “I am everything, I am nothing!” Ozymandias” is the longest cut at 7:21, and it has a nice, fluid start. The leads are razor sharp, while the howls are harsh and abrasive, and the band sinks into deep thrashing. It should go without saying that the playing is so on the money here (it really is everywhere), and some great soloing leads into vicious growls and a final blast of madness. “Siderea” is an instrumental cut where Horrendous show their proggy side, with the track slowly unfurling, the guitars swimming in the murk, and the pace eventually blistering. “Polaris” starts stomping right away, with creaked growls leading the way, colorful leads exploding, and some pretty cool twists and turns, feeling techy and thrashy, and always full of heart.

“Acolytes” runs a healthy 7:14, and it has an ominous beginning, chugging and sweltering, playing tricks with your mind. The tracks breaks open more, with the vocals blasting out furiously, the pace absolutely steamrolling, and the guitars stretching out into the cosmos. Manic progressions prevail before the song becomes calmer, and then we’re onto “Sum of All Failures” and its quiet, acoustic opening. Naturally the serenity doesn’t last long as the crunch unloads, strong guitar work rollicks, and more prog fire spits out, adding some weirder textures. A nice classic metal feel emerges, as the guitars enrage the fires, and everything builds right up to its abrupt end. “Stillborn Gods” has a bit of a rock feel to it in spots, but that doesn’t take any bite out of the track’s intensity. The race is catchy and fun, while the vocals are violent and screechy, and the melodies kill everything. It’s a nice organic development for this one, and it fades out, paving the way for closer “The Solipsist (Mirrors Gaze).” The track has an elegant, clean launch, sprawling slowly before the fireworks burst. The band pours on the punishment, with every element bringing chaotic flashes, but from there, the track goes more calculated. The band takes its time, punching and bruising, with the vocals delivered harshly, and the song mashing and thrashing before the whole thing slowly bleeds away.

“Anareta” already has been met with quite a bit of praise, and there’s a damn good reason behind this. Horrendous truly have come into their own, at least how that’s defined in late 2015. They likely could do more, grow further, and discover other ways to blow minds. This is a damn fine example of classic-minded death scraped with modern thinking, and it established Horrendous as one of the finest bands going in this or any other corner of metal’s landscape.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HorrendousDeathMetal

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

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