Formed slightly less than a decade ago, the fact that Below The Grief is Mexican duo Zombiefication’s fourth full length counts for something in one of two ways: either Mr. Jacko [bass, guitars] and Mr. Hitchcock [vocals] aren’t very quality-conscious, or they’re just that reliable.

Factor in that three of those albums were released in the first five years of the band’s existence, the newest coming after a four-year absence, and either hypothesis becomes much more convoluted.

“Blood Falls” works as a solid enough preview of what’s to come: slightly hazy chord progressions, more late-‘90s black metal in execution than anything the duo’s done before in parts, slammed against the obligatory Hellhammer/Sarcofago nods with the same care a blood-drunk orc would show trying to warhammer a dwelling together instead of apart, which, if you wondered, isn’t much at all.

Shrugging, noncommittal, we lumber on to “Deliverance From The Astral Sea,” and it seems this meandering battle plan is what’ll be followed throughout. Mr. Hitchcock’s vocal attack is seemingly, “Hey, let’s just yell, and that’ll do proper.” Clearly his delivery has not changed–or improved much–over time.

The latter half of “Deliverance From…” has moments of memorability, however, languid, loping before returning to the blandness that began the song. “From Death To Its Son” ups the ante, injecting a bit of aggression and, believe it or not, passion, and, were Hitchcock’s inane yowling/caterwauling removed, it might be a different song entirely.

It’d be better, that’s for sure. There’s simply no rhyme or reason to a lot of what’s happening within Below The Grief. “Hunger Undying” latches onto a fairly chunky, robust groove in spots, frenetic black-tinged death in others, its only real downfall being… well, by now you know where I’m going with this.

If Zombiefication ever really want to move from the shadow of their influences, who did this sort of thing long before and far better, it needs to seriously rethink both its songwriting and who is behind the mic. You’d think four years gone would’ve brought improvement.

Purchase the album here.

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