[15 February 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
During a conversation with Profound Lore label owner Chris Bruni a couple years ago, he expressed his desire to find more bands who held true to the sound of death metal at its absolute purest and not what’s come to be known as the death metal of today, the immaculately produced, technically insane, and compressed, triggered sounds of the Behemoths and Job for a Cowboys of the mainstream metal world. Instead, his eyes were set on finding acts more in the vein of Autopsy, Carnage, and Nihilist. In other words, bands who couldn’t care less about how tightly they could pull off blastbeats or how many notes they could cram into a single passage, instead focusing on evoking death in every sense of the word: the atmosphere, the sound, and the stench. Australia’s Portal and subsequent side project Impetuous Ritual have gone a long way towards realizing Profound Lore’s vision, but the discovery of Vasaeleth has turned out to be a real coup.
A collaboration between Georgia multi-instrumentalist O.A. and Texas-based drummer Antinom, Crypt Born and Tethered to Ruin stubbornly hearkens back to death metal’s formative years, as the production boasts a suffocating, no-frills tone similar to early Venom and Hellhammer, and the ungodly vocals sound like field recordings of a supremely pissed-off spelunking Orc. It’s such a simple approach, but this half-hour record is devastating. The malevolence of “Poisoned Tongue” is venomous, not to mention eloquent: “Towards my breast and with poisoned tongue lick your cheek, to turn it black as coal / My gangrenous wound becomes your baby.” “Curse Seeping Through Flesh” boasts riffs and string-bends akin to Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales, the rhythm section on “Poisoned Tongue” creates a murk thick as tar, while “Adorned and Iridescent” tosses in doom-inspired passages and an astonishing, inexplicably beautiful keyboard-backed coda. It’s the kind of primitive metal that will thrill those who’ve grown jaded with death’s current direction and swiftly edify youngsters who consider Suicide Silence the be-all and end-all of brutality.