(Iron Bonehead Productions, 2013)
#FOR FANS OF: Death Metal, Incantation, Autopsy, Cruciamentum
Despite the funky lettering that constitutes their given name, the band refers to themselves as Sheol and hail not from the Middle East as expected but rather London, England, in the UK, and while this geography lesson has nothing to do with the music within, the fact remains that this is some pretty deep and intense old-school sounding Death Metal. This is decidedly obvious Incantation style worship from the first minutes as the band plays with that ever-familiar ‘Cavernous’ style of Death Metal filled with simple rhythms, blasting drums and deep, deep growls that are so reverb-laden it produces the effect of being recorded in a cavern below the ground, and with the sludgy guitar patterns, blasting drumming and slimey, wet bass-lines that fill this one so well from the get-go, it produces that old-school sound in rather simple fashion as the continuous assaults from the band generate few other points of inspiration. The Autopsy influence comes from the rather filth-ridden guitar lines that have more sonic clarity than Incantation ever attempted, and resonate with more technical flow as well that again recalls the secondary practitioner of this style, and when it’s all wrapped into that sprawling mass of reverb and charging tempos, the result becomes competent-if-not-exactly original fare this time around for it doesn’t really do anything special with this style that other bands have already been playing with and perfecting for years now. Perhaps this has to do with the overall shortness of the EP for this legitimately only has three original tracks to play with as there’s the cover and two instrumentals among the six tracks, leaving only three proper songs to really give any sustenance to the bands’ original style and it comes off with the same feelings that many others have already. Among the two instrumental cuts, intro "Spiritual Desiccation" really generates a far more appropriate feel and vibe of the music with the eerie droning and gradual build-up of the churning guitars and blasting drumming that really sets an intense, dark stage for the rest of the music, while "Katachthomb" is more Middle Eastern rhythms, chanting and melodies that serves as a fine mid-album breather if a twenty-five minute album could be said to require a breather. The first two full-songs, "Deluge of Tehom" and "Perpetual Descent into She’ol" offer pretty much what the band’s really like, with tight, raging guitars, blasting drums and a series of riffs that sound gigantic and muddied with the production issues that charge forth nicely amid a series of sweeps and dives that alternate tempos nicely and show a lot of potential here. As far as their original cuts goes, though, the best is undoubtedly the title track which recalls their cavernous riffing approach only melded to the intense blasting and frenetic pacing of Blackened Death Metal act Cruciamentum, no small feat with their shared members but this extreme blast of Death is certainly worthwhile and shows there’s something potentially interesting about the bands’ burgeoning sound in the years to come. The final song, a cover of DarkThrone’s seminal "Cromlech" retains the intensity and tight riffing but seems to be out-of-place with its lighter atmosphere and doesn’t offer the riffing patterns that fit in with their style attempted here as the tremolo-picked melodies don’t translate too well for this sludgy, down-tuned offering. Again, this is certainly competent material when it comes down to it, but it’s just a misguided teaser when it’s equaled by other factors here that should be ironed out and ready to destroy come the next release.