This new album by Ossuarium, an old school death metal quartet from sunny Portland, Oregon, is as painful and grim as anything I have heard in a while.
And I love it for that.
With songs like the ones assembled on Living Tomb, a listener really gets to appreciate the subtle difference between what it means to be bleak or harrowing. Listening to this eight-track recording can be, if you let go and allow it, a bedrock experience for forming your own blackened dictionary filled with specific language for all of those little. private tortures and petty humiliations that have befallen you over these years.
Right away, among my favorite aspects on Living Tomb are the protracted and agonized instrumental passages that pepper their songs, like the scintillating labyrinthine interlude that fills the corroded center of “Vomiting Black Death.” The blastbeats gradually ease off, and as a result, the track evolves into something more cinematic, achieving an overall more textured mood. On “Corrosive Hallucinations,” a seven-minute track steeped in awful bitterness, the walls of deafening guitars and death-rasp vocals gradually salt away revealing open chasms of blasted dreamlike melody.
Opening with a dawn of distortion and bizarre, ascending tones, Living Tomb sets itself up to be nuanced, doom-influenced black metal and the husky, barbaric anthem that follows, “Blaze Of Bodies,” does nothing to defy that expectation. Ossuarium fill the mix with dense, slavish riffs, but the sound that comes through is rarely crowded or muddy.
A pair of tracks, Parts I and II of “End Of Life Dreams And Vision,” end the record. Part One is teeming with wild, spiraling guitar lines and bowel-rumbling percussion that packs a lot of exciting tempo shifts and vitality into just five minutes. Between the twin tracks, “Malicious Equivilence” is a full-on attack of noisy, neck-breaking black metal. At long last, the album’s closer, Part II of the twins, opens slower and more expansive, revealing a titanic culmination of the album’s bleak ambiance.
Rarely does Living Tomb show the signs of being a debut album. The sound is refined in all the right ways. Ossuarium had only previously released a three-track demo. Here, the well-produced tracks are satisfying and serve to hammer home a reminder that our dank and terrifying realities are never gone to shadows.