UK death metallers Horrified are dropping their new LP, ‘Of Despair’ on Infernal Devastation Records in a few weeks, and what a collection of razor sharp death metal brutality it is. Taking cues from Swedish classics, Horrified inject their own fetid signatures into an album of high quality and surprisingly melancholy.
Opener ‘Palace of Defilement’ blends all of those vintage Scandinavian melodies with blood churning brutality. ‘Of Despair’ is a multifaceted record, with slower sections that ramp up the atmospherics (the gloomy ‘Infernal Lands’) and skull fracturing blasting (the blitzkrieg of ‘Amidst the Darkest Depths’). It has a classic chainsaw guitar tone, and sets themselves up in some places to be a worthy successor to the dead corpse of Dismember. But there’s also some links to Floridian death, like the Cannibal Corpse-esque ‘Chasm of Nihrain’.
But for me, it is the monolithic centrepiece ‘Funeral Pyres’ that give Horrified the kind of musical showcase they need to stand out. Eight minutes of every death metal trick in the book, from thunderous blasting, grinding riffs and a caustic growl that will appeal to all death metal fans, to some ethereal melodies and a surprising clean vocal midsection. It is a great moment for the band to stand out from other death metal bands who ape the older bands but show nothing of themselves.
Sure Horrified use every trick in the bloodstained death metal book, but the material is executed so well, and with great songwriting comes great songs, which Horrified do in spades. Songs like ‘Dreamer of Ages’ or the melodic title track have loads of atmosphere, others are possessed with that single minded spirit that cries out for blasting and screaming. ‘Of Despair’ is a thoroughly old school record that sounds strikingly fresh and new.