Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Condemned - Realms of the Ungodly (2011; Unique Leader Records)

It's well known that Condemned's first offering was fairly well-received by the slam world. To many people, it was an "all-star" release that typified a lot of what brutal death metal is (or was 4 years ago...wow, that seems like a long time ago, shit), and it was distributed by a fairly well-to-do label that has good promotion in the brutal world. I'm here to state my opinion on that album straight out of the gate so that you might be able to glean a bit more from my review on their new album today; I thought Desecrate the Vile kind of sucked. It had piss-poor, weak production with no bite to it, the riffs faded in and out really quickly, the songs were unfocused, under-developed and short and the last track was one of those annoying "really long outro that we all wish was 11 minutes of a single slam riff repeated" things. This is totally different. This is good. Really good.

Even though the beginning of the album is a little cheesy with the opening elucidation of the first real song being more than a bit silly, the band quickly follows that up with various subtly-epic riffs that snake between headphones, developing into errant blastbeat passages tied together by collapsing structures formed of vague slam riffs. Forrest of Cephalotripsy is a real beast on this. We all know and love Lille Gruber of Defeated Sanity fame, right? Well, Forrest really gives it his all during the majority of this album, and his technique sometimes comes close to that blastmaster, especially during slower breakdown sections. Otherwise, he blasts in true Colombian fashion, or maybe sometimes like Putridity's drummer. A bass bomb opens up the first real slam breakdown of the album at the end of "Ere the Dark Sovereign", with its really weird abstract riffs between slams. This kind of sets the mood for the whole album; somewhat catchy, weird epic/melodic riffs blended almost seamlessly with slams that bludgeon faces flat.

The band just steps everything up 500% on this album; even if you liked the previous album, you'll probably like this even more given how much better it sounds, plays and formulates itself. It really feels like the album is unfolding in front of you, not just being played by some guys from California. The atmosphere is really cool, as well. Subtle things like the "swarm of angry bees/locusts/wasps" effect preceding the breakdown-into-verse of "Baptismal Incineration..." are highly, highly welcomed and set the band apart from their peers on this one. Splayed and nicely sequenced riffwork opens up the varied breakdown styles, which have roots in slams but which tend to deviate over their own courses into crazy variations on the originally-presented ideas. "Catharsis..." sounds a bit like a "single" from this album, with its wild, flailing aplomb and bombastic riff structuring, bass bomb-into-pinch harmonic rumbling breakdown and varied songwriting styles. The shortness of this track works better for it than most, if not all, of the short tracks on Desecrate the Vile worked in context of that album. It's ended by a creepy, sudden ambient heartbeat collaboration that leads perfectly into the next slab of utter brutality.

The title track is seriously awesome; it's got it all; insane riffy intro, epic progression that clobbers the listener with insane twists and turns and vocals that actually fit rather than how they felt misplaced to me on Desecrate. Angel still does his fair share of silly shit (you know what I'm talking about and you're probably replaying it in your head as I speak), but the little touches of epic reverb during the slam sections are that much more effective here. Also, the solo is a nice touch and flows surprisingly well. If anything, this album could use more cool solos! Another atmospheric outro and we've hit the second "half" of a really, really solid album that has kicked my ass every single time I've listened to it so far, leaving me with more things to discover on it rather than mere satiation.

"Forged within Lecherous Offerings" offers more in under 3 minutes than many lesser slam bands offer in a whole album; there's a progression into an epic riff that pretty much should never have been written but was (check out how the song develops after :43 onwards and be confused about how exactly they got to where they went there; it's seriously wacky). Later in the song there's some weird stuff (kinda major key melodic stuff intro the outro?) but it closes powerfully and opens into the next few songs that recite key points I've already gone over in this review; kind of unworthy of going over again, though there are some cool "classic blasts" and various riff-salad things going on that are impressive on both a technical and songwriting level.

The real thing of interest here is the almost 6-minute final song, "Submerged unto Phlegethon" which really just kicks major ass in almost every foreseeable way. It has a funeral slam, so of course it's going to top my list in that sense. There's a really cool breakdown preceding it, too; some kind of crazy staccato (thanks Logan for the good terminology here!) riffing that leads straight to a sinister, ever-slowing slam. Other than that there are vocal highlights during crazy tremolo-into-slam sections, insane drum fills that really just rule in every conceivable way and an extended brutal outro that practically devours its competition whole, and, yet...the ending is one of rebirth. It just kind of...stops. There's nothing else. Nothing but an endless silence within which we wait for their next offering with nothing but baited breath.

I think this album has all the makings of a classic brutal death album for the future. It is raw and unforgiving, callous and oppressive, well-crafted and well-thought-out, and yet it has its own barbarity mingling with a professionalism that is belied by the rough-shod edges it seems to parade proudly. As with most awesome slam, it is a paradox that we cheer on and celebrate loudly; the ability to present something so incalculably insipid in such a potent and overpowering way that it defies all qualification. You probably owe it to yourself to listen to this right now.


anthony said...

I could not agree more with this very well written review!

DoomBlack said...

dude yes, this review is great.
cant wait for new tripsy album too, hope to see a great review like this one.

Spencer Van Dyk said...


You guys should check this out. It is borderline not-slam. Or meloslam. Or something. It's sick though.

Crinn said...

Hey, make sure to check out my website www.nylon-ice.blogspot.com, I write metal reviews as well (tons of tech/slam/etc. as well as every other kind of metal you can think of!) I hope we can collaborate/communicate sometime! regards