PICK OF THE WEEK: Execration’s death metal explodes toward cosmos on ‘Return to the Void’

Photo by Carsten Aniksdal

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about outer space around here, which is bizarre as it’s one of our favorite subjects. A lot of metal seems to be heading in that direction as well, as bands have been making more music seemingly set in the cosmos or at least on its way there for a journey. Any time the great beyond is the subject matter, I’m more than willing to listen.

That statement is compounded when the source of such music is Nordic death metal band Execration. Already known as one of the more inventive, imagination-bound bands out there, they’ve turned their ship right to the stars on their fourth record “Return to the Void.” You don’t have to immerse yourself in these nine cuts (seven full tracks and two interludes) for long to feel your mind drifting among far-off planets and strange stars. The music the band spreads over these 42 minutes is as mentally stimulating as it is heavy, as they dash their death metal with generous portions of mind-altering prog. The band—Christian Johansen (guitar/vocals) Jørgen Maristuen (guitar/vocals), Jonas Helgemo (bass), and Cato Syversrud (drums)—also set to trim down their serving size while not sacrificing any of their molten approach. The result is their shortest full-length to date, but one that proves it has just as much muscle and precise throttling as its predecessor “Morbid Dimensions” and anything else in their catalog. If anything, the record’s dosage is just right.

“Eternal Recurrence” opens the record with guitars slowly peaking over the horizon before we’re full bore into the meat of the song. The vocals scrape and sometimes hit scorching notes, especially later in the cut, while the song comes to a swirling, thrashy finish. “Hammers of Vulcan” has guitars blazing and heading into a psychedelic haze. “Blood will be shed!” is vowed, as the music hits a nasty swagger, and the vocals blast over a mesmerizing end. “Nekrocosm” has drums rolling into a pocket of burly riffs, while prog-fueled melodies drift in and change the DNA. The band hits a nasty bit of spacey aggression, while the guitars start to soar above the clouds. Later on, hyperdrive is achieved, and the whole thing ends very abruptly. “Cephalic Transmissions” is the longest song, at 7:45, and it starts in an eerie cavern that stretches itself out. From there, the pace is sliced open, and alien growls rupture the ambiance. Tricky and weird playing mix, further enhancing that idea that you’re gazing into the heart of the Milky Way, while soloing tears a hole in the universe, and the song comes to a hammering finish.

“Blood Moon Eclipse” is an interlude piece that is clean and spacious, and it heads right toward Unicursal Horoscope.” The band launches into more imaginative playing that will spin your head, as harsh growls trudge hard, only to slip into a dream state that chills the flesh. Keys buzz while guitars open and sting, as wild howls return, pushing the back end of the song into a hellish vortex. “Through the Oculus” is the second interlude, and it simmers in warm guitars and melting melody. The title track has a spindly, dizzying beginning, but then the blast furnace doors open, and we’re on our way. The vocals are deadly and wild, while the band does its best to contort death metal into its weirdest form. A robotic recitation (in delivery, not in how the voice sounds) spreads out, and then the cut starts thrashing wildly again. The tempo hits a heavy gallop, as reverbed destruction pours out of every crevice. Closer “Det Uransakelige Dyp” (translated means “the inscrutable deep”) lets clean guitars drip, as a cool vibe is set up that feels a lot different. The song toughens up as it goes, with the band thrashing away, and more proggy weirdness spilling out and all over the place. The bass unloads, while the tempo smothers, and that rounds into a final burst that’s sludgy, immersed in space, and finally is swallowed whole by intergalactic whispers.

Execration are a great addition to Metal Blade, who are doing a really good job adding strong bands next to the ones that primarily move units, unlike some other labels (looking at you, Roadrunner…). “Return to the Void” is landing at a great place where it can get the exposure it deserves, and Execration help add another notch to the Blade’s incredible history of finding great bands. This record is a fascinating, devastating journey that should push these Nordic beasts higher into the death metal galaxy.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

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