Dark Descent Records
American old school death metal band Horrendous left me hooked with their 2012 debut, The Chills, with their flair for playing some nice old school Swedish death metal. 2 years on, they release the follow up in the form of Ecdysis. Along with the recent trend of kickass bands such as Tribulation and Morbus Chron going all progressive, there was this little, nagging feeling that Horrendous would eventually tread the same path, and looking at the rather abstract artwork on Ecdysis, I was pretty apprehensive that this was going to be true.
The opening sound samples on The Stranger left me rather disappointed, and I was worried that my fears were going to be proven right (not that the recent Tribulation and Morbus Chron releases were bad, just… Different?). Even the first riffs of Damian and Matt did little to quell this slight sense of disappointment. But soon enough, as the band picks up the pace, some elements of familiarity creep into the picture, and one is treated to a nice old school death ‘n’ roll record, and one is brought back to the familiar ground of Autopsy or Dismember-influenced death metal.
At the same time, the band brings in new elements into the mix. Unlike on The Chills, things on Ecdysis are much more atmospheric and emotional, and there are even moments where I can swear the band has included blackened elements, such as the bleakness in the melodies unleashed by Damian and Matt. Furthermore, the howling vocals on Ecdysis add a nice, desperate touch as well, bringing out and emphasising the negativity on the record.
The leads on the album are often melodic, and unlike the chaos that one would relate to Swedish death metal, there is very little that is chaotic over here, and slower moments even make Horrendous sounds like a death/doom metal band. The two instrumental tracks on the album, The Vermillion and When the Walls Fell, emphasise this altered musical direction of the band, and somehow fit into the larger picture nicely. When the Walls Fell even brings in an old school heavy metal vibe, and I almost thought I was listening to Loudness once the first riffs kicked in.
Of course, to me, The Chills would always remain a standout album. But with Ecdysis, Horrendous has shown their mastery in the genre of metal, and the sound presented by the band is rather innovative, something that is rarely heard these days. The retention of some elements of what was on The Chills ensures that fans of that record are not alienated, and I have to say, with a couple of listens, Ecdysis really does grow on you.