Review Summary: Sounds like: Satan picking a fight with Jesus and winning. Or me setting my Staffordshire Bull Terrier loose through my neighborhood to chomp down on the weaker species.
Prosthetic Records have delivered some of the year's biggest and baddest metal record's of the year and I’m not even talking about the latest Testament, Gojira, or All That Remains offering’s. No offense to two of the previous three bands that I mentioned because they put on a fine show indeed, but were merely outclassed and taken to school by the youth. In 2008, MLB featured several playoff caliber teams that exceeded the 100 million payroll. I’m talking specifically about the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, and both Chicago clubs. Well, it’s October and do you know what the funny part of the story is? One of the two teams currently in the World Series boast’s the second lowest payroll in the league at just under 30 million. They are the Tampa Bay Rays and second only to the Florida Marlins who came just short of attending their third playoff birth while playing under a 20 million dollar payroll. The point is, it doesn’t matter how much money or recognition you have, talent first and foremost pushes you to the front and that is just what the Funeral Pyre, Withered, Century and now, Book Of Black Earth have done.
Book Of Black Earth is a Seattle based blackened death metal unit who originally started off as Teen Cthulhu. They based themselves off a famous cretin displayed in one of H.P Lovecraft’s publications before suddenly abandoning the name for the decidedly cooler and more metal handle “Book Of Black Earth“. They released a solid debut in “The Feast” which promptly caught the eye of Prosthetic Records. The band’s atmospheric and keyboard rich yet savage offering was an impressive release, few moderate complaints tossed aside for the moment. Book Of Black Earth has returned in 2008 under the radar with the mightily improved Horoskopus. Horoskopus is an 11 track 56 minute assault to the senses of pent up thrash, death, doom, and black metal aggression that savagely beats you into a bloody pulp from start to finish. The album opens up with the intro “2160” and it’s nice to see the band eschew away from the standard melodic instrumental for an aggressive, drum rolling riff fest that gives a proper introduction for the rest of the CD.
Unfortunately, the album starts off on a rather dull note after the promising ’2160” but by the third song, Horoskripture, the band returns to true form and delivers catchy, intricate extreme metal destined for greener pastures. Basically, if you enjoy Entombed, Candlemass, Morbid Angel, any black/thrash, and or sludgy down tempo this is for you. Overpowering you with their brawn is what Book Of Black Earth specialize in and it all start’s with the splendid guitar section of TJ Cowgill and Tony Lombardi. The duo opt for a heavy down tuned approach shifting between Tampa Bay death and Southern sludge with the Stockholm/ Gothenburg punch of melodic death. Tempos generally feel comfortable with sticking around mid paced for awhile but Book Of Black Earth often employ dirge like passages through the slower moments. The only complaint to some, or many for that matter would be the lack of solos present as evidenced by the lone burst found in ’The Darkest Age”. In hopes to make up for the lack of solos, Book Of Black earth try to create monumental pit stirring riffs with the occasional yet sublime melodies. The melody in “Cult Of Dagon” is worth writing home about while casually bringing Neurosis to mind. Rhythm guitarist TJ Cowgill and bassist Dav Tafoya Garcia share vocal duties for the album. The vocals are generally guttural as hell and as vicious as a pit-bull tearing through a poodle for a mid morning snack. Low to mid range, these guys bring the best bands to mind, Entombed, Dismember, Morbid Angel, etc. And occasionally the lyrics are quite comprehensible as one “***” stands out vividly to me.
When I first heard 2160 I knew I was going to be in for a treat with the drums. Joe Axler’s individual performance is the loudest and most extreme most on the album. His snare is incredibly violent and loud enough to chip away and penetrate the gates of heaven. Factor in the rapid fire drum fills and Gatling gun blast beats/double bass and heaven realistically stands no chance for surviving the night as the approaching darkness approaches. The band has a keyboard player and although I’m not convinced his position is necessary, Hank Guthrie’s minimal approach really benefit’s the music. Think about the album Covenant from Morbid Angel and how the keyboards were used to create foreboding atmosphere without going purple. That is basically how Hank‘s role is utilized and I can‘t complain. His finest contributions are displayed sparingly but nonetheless warrant enough to mention. The introduction to “From Heaven” brings a rich, bombasting symphonic black metal flavor to mind, well at least for 16 seconds before erupting into straight up death metal. The intro for the nine minute epic closer, “Christ Pathogen’ is also a highlight with Hank’s windy sample overlapping the momentarily clean guitar riff. Bass? What about it? Well, it’s present and doesn’t do much else. Well maybe Dav is too busy providing back up vocals to contribute some memorable bass lines but usually death metal features some virtuosic finger tapping.
Bass and the first couple tracks aside, Horoskopus is a well crafted death metal record for the new generation to sink their teeth into. The murky production that Book Of Black Earth has chosen pretty much rules and needs no tampering for future releasess. There is nothing really else left to say other than to acquire this now my fellow Americans/Europeans/ or wherever you’re from.
2.Funeral Of peace
4.The Darkest Age
5.The Greatest Year