(I, Voidhanger, 2018)
#FOR FANS OF: Prog Death, Gorguts
Technical, intricate, and intoxicating in its disorientation, Moss Upon the Skull festers and grows as harmonic leads are entangled and choked by an imposition of malignant bass, contorting each pleasant moment into an impending horror. Relentless rhythmic interchanges and an everflowing river of creativity ensure a consistent tension accompanies this bewildering Lethean journey as progressions meet ruination, animation is governed by decay, and each new structure builds off the last while simultaneously denoting the large swaths of time that elegantly acknowledge crumbling old pillars and the rises of new monuments sprouting up like mushrooms on the rotting carcasses of fallen giants. True to its name and album title, Moss Upon the Skull shows in its genetic coding the filth of the past generations of the metal milieu, playing 'In Vengeful Reverence' many terrifying twists on the harmonies of old to shore up a new technical monument to the past decades of abnormal progress.
Gritty and chewy guitars in “Disintegrated” masticate a rhythm, like a toothless hunger gumming down on a steak with sinew slowly dissolving in a wave of saliva, each enzyme breaking down molecules and reconstituting them in squalid squelching strings. However, that gushing sound is not an uncommon rejoinder to these unusual structures but a consistent foil to the burgeoning beauty behind these laborious deconstructions. Compelling harmonies and riffing in “Impending Evil”, searing guitar chords with prickly sprays of black metal sleet employed in an almost grunge fashion through “Lair of the Hypocrite” before a dingy disorienting harmonic breakdown, and, in an interlude as funky as it is contorted by the preeminence of evil in this band's sound, gorgeous riffing at the end of “Serving the Elite” show that these scraping riffs are the estuary from which spout intricate tributaries culminating in swamps of filth from elaborate contortions through rich mindful landscapes.
Unlikely to longingly linger on a nostalgic note or allow a breakdown to fester in its deterioration, the title track ensures that its fury retains an amorphous structure as it engineers a guitar bridge while under fire from volleys of blast beats. “In Vengeful Reverence” molds a monstrous amalgamation of prominent death metal structures while laying bare their bones as though witnessing the construction of Parisian catacombs. Throughout this album is an ever-focused timeless eye, one that utilizes its alchemy to piece together these contorted monuments and finally, by the time of reaching “Unseen, Yet Allseeing”, arrives with such fanfare akin to the metal standard that it sounds like a renaissance movement unearthed while exploring underground.
Homage finds itself imbued in the details among these intricate abnormalities. It comes through well in the end of “Peristalith” with the accursed Demilich round as it awkwardly walks through a storm of blast beating reminiscent of “The Echo”. This filthy and elaborate delivery expounds upon the technical squeals of a caged race enduring the bidding of its captors as songs flow with impressionistic fluidity underscoring the roles of numerous notes added to each flowing sound and the sharp grotesquerie of a structure when stripped down to its most basic components. Through a calculated mid-paced punch accentuated by a dragging lead guitar, “The Serpent Scepter” shows these swaths coming through in delirious distortions of chords and scrambles the harmony with scratchy technicality as it increases in intensity backed up by long drumming fills and crafty changeups. The anarchical desire to punch through these riffs with such funky drumming ensures that even the most rote moments of rise and drop smoothly worm their ways into impactful routines of technical exercise.
Gritty, cavernous, and intricate Moss Upon the Skull intermixes fierce technicality with gorgeous harmony to journey through its awkward and inverted 'In Vengeful Reverence'. Laying a groundwork of horror from which harmony must claw makes this inversion of every modern musical sensibility come through with elaborate and slyly perverse enjoyability. Esoteric curling harmonies and aggressive amorphous drumming show off a band unable to find contentment in sitting on a structure for too long while the decaying delay on the guitars works well to sharpen the impact of each note and also ensures a simultaneously dreary and dreamlike delivery. A flow that is as debilitating as the jarring madness of traversing the Leth river and humbling in its simultaneously haunting and enchanting, familiar and esoteric offerings, the cleanliness of the band's production compliments the relentless interchanges and ever-flowing creativity typifying an album that shows death metal remaining ripe in 2018.