Death Vanish’ Cold Hammer of Melancholy, the band’s second release via Eternal Death, isn’t an accessible album by any stretch of the imagination. With lo-fi production bordering on unintelligible and themes entrenched in the morbidly existential, this four-track black metal album comes packaged in a nearly impenetrable miasma. However, if you can successfully navigate towards the album’s black core, grotesque and compelling scenes of primeval transcendence unfold.
Trudging through the muck of “Solipsism and Antichrist,” an anxiety builds. The bass is throaty and aggressive, the guitar is unforgivingly coarse, and the vocals lurk somewhere behind these brutish creatures like a cloaked overlord. It’s simple to wonder, but challenging to precisely imagine, from what ancient world this soundscape emanates.
The deep, convulsing tremolo on the album’s title track forms possibly the best moments of Cold Hammer of Melancholy. These pulsations are a hand, shaking and outstretched, reaching into a void with no firm grasp as to what consequences await. The following blasts are disorienting and monstrous. Returning to the intro riff in conclusion, a consequential cycle feels complete by the end of “Cold Hammer of Melancholy.”
“Saturnian Realms Return” separates from the composition of the previous song, instead pummeling forward with no refrain. This refusal to recycle any moments within the song highlights Death Vanish’s compositional versatility. While traditional structure and motif are well-used on Cold Hammer of Melancholy, “Saturnian Realms Return”’s experimental structure shakes the album at just the right moment.
Closing Cold Hammer of Melancholy, “Bloodless Fog (Of My Mind)” is a treble-picked, blast beat-filled terror concluding in a plod towards oblivion. The echo carrying the vocals away at the song’s resolve concludes the album on an eerie, detuned note.
This album certainly doesn’t rest comfortably on everyone’s ears. While it’d be simple to mistake this abrasiveness as a flaw, it is keenly intentional. Cold Hammer of Melancholy is purposefully antagonistic, with every element of its existence evoking instinctive responses and commanding cult appeal.
While a higher score evaded this album due to its markedly niche allure, make no mistake: Cold Hammer of Melancholy is a skillfully crafted primitive black metal album that will leave the right listeners floored.