Gorephilia
Severed Monolith


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ain Soph Aur CONTRIBUTOR (37 Reviews)
March 3rd, 2017 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Interplanar hellfire

Raul Gonzalez is a master of his craft. The Dan Seagrave of the modern age. His hand-painted images have defined the aesthetic of innumerable death metal bands to create a fantastical purpose and clarity to the music. There’s something so essential to his style that just gels, and is an integral part of what makes so many great albums what they are. Of course, the music itself plays a significant role, but there’s something so comforting about the consistency of artwork defining the atmosphere of each record, setting the tone and mood for each obelisk it represents. And Severed Monolith is represented first and foremost by the ripping corpse torn by lightning and floating through the vortex of an impossible cosmos, and Gorephilia’s soundtrack behind the art is equally vicious and compelling in its imagery.

The album tears through styles of blistering, discordant guitar work, rumbling and gore-ridden bass lines to reverb-laden vocals that underlie the chaos. The complex drumming on display here is almost easy to overlook when all the instrumental elements of the music come together so naturally. Thunderous and heavy blast beats are accompanied by nuanced and deeply satisfying fills and cymbal-work, and each track undergoes changes from more technical passages to doomy, rotting grooves. Opening track ‘Interplanar’ does a wonderful job of pacing itself through each riff before the final breakdown. ‘Harmageddon of Souls’ shows the band’s greatest technical strengths right off the bat with the amazingly tight production that accompanies such dense and detailed music. The entire experience is incredibly crisp, but never sacrifices a layer of murky, foggy gloom that holds sway over the entire tone of the record.

I’ve always been drawn to the types of albums that take the time to work in atmospheric interludes or intros and outros. I’ve heard a lot of people over the years say they just skip them or pass them off as filler, but to these ears they’re just as integral and to be taken at face-value as the artwork. An interlude will usually convey a tone or presence to the music that can’t as succinctly be portrayed through a fiery death metal track. Some passages of music may evoke many images, but it’s the artwork and the atmosphere set by these smaller pieces of the whole that lay down the context and grounds for these images to appear. It’s hard to imagine anything else but the relentless and unyielding power of the alien and surreal when tracks like ‘Words That Solve Problems’ and ‘Eternity’ play and the artwork is displayed in front of you. But then the untitled closing track subverts that feeling with a very human, very grounded piano piece that steals away this cosmic aberrance and ruins a bit of the lustre the music was owning just moments earlier in the previous track.

Gorephilia also fail to live up to this aesthetic consistency with their song titles. While titles like ‘Interplanar’, ‘The Ravenous Storm’ and ‘Return to Dark Space’ keep up this illusion, the influence of imagery alone is broken when titles like ‘Hellfire’ and ‘Words That Solve Problems’ distinctly remove the music from its original path, along with other titles that tug the concepts in different, varying directions. A petty squabble, surely, but the illusions of a place, a fantasy and an intoxicating and consistent overtone are what make death metal so special. The best albums in the genre are masters of defining these things within moments. From looking at that cover and reading the tracklisting, the mood is already set. Gorephilia undermines this innate connection with inconsistent titling that can make finding a mood more difficult than it needs to be.

Severed Monolith is a brilliantly paced and quite detailed album. Each song features several layers of tight, technical and varied music that only engages interest more and more over each subsequent listen. Penultimate track ‘Crushed Under the Weight of God’ displays this songwriting prowess with incredible nuance in its nine-minute runtime. But with its vast influences and erratic aesthetic tone uneasily hanging over every facet of the music, it can be hard to suspend disbelief and fully immerse yourself within its style. With perhaps an iota more care when developing the lyrical concepts, the song titles and the unity of its interludes to fit completely in line with one another and with the monstrously perfect artwork, Severed Monolith could have been a modern classic -- but it’s in those stupidly insignificant details that it loses me.



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3.6
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2017


2922 Comments


Probably the most unnecessarily nitpicky review I've ever written, but this thing really is a stunningly crafted death metal record.

Listen/buy: https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/severed-monolith

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2017


1773 Comments


mind pos, instant buy.

bloc
March 3rd 2017


43517 Comments


Will have to check this out. The band name had me assuming this was stupid gore-slam-grind or whatever.

Digging: Venenum - Trance of Death

kingdedethefifth
March 3rd 2017


3912 Comments


Odd ending on such a negative note when you really digged the album but hell i mostly agree with you. Also that ending track is bloody fucking good.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2017


986 Comments


I actually like the point you make with the song titles. While a good song is a good song regardless, if you're really trying to get into an album, having questionable song titles can tamper the illusion

emester
March 3rd 2017


8163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really solid record

Digging: Spectral Voice - Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

AnimalsAsSummit
March 3rd 2017


2856 Comments


that cover is exceptional

Digging: Jean-Pascal Buffo - Rituel

BlackLlama
March 3rd 2017


2145 Comments


Will buy this based upon the cover alone.

The review helped some too ;)

MrSirLordGentleman
March 3rd 2017


10865 Comments


artwork rules

Deschutes
March 3rd 2017


441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just as tasty as the last one

DungeonBoy
March 3rd 2017


3059 Comments


Good review. Only got through half of it. It's a pretty solid slab of dense death metal, but not really sure what more it has to offer than that.

Digging: Kauan - Kaiho

Panzerchrist
March 3rd 2017


314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"The Dan Seagrave of the modern age"



Hate to tell you this, but Dan Seagrave still does album artwork, and it still rips.



Solid review otherwise.

DungeonBoy
March 3rd 2017


3059 Comments


and let's be honest, Paolo Girardi is the Dan Seagrave of the modern age ;)

SitruK6
March 3rd 2017


1126 Comments


will check

Avagantamos
March 3rd 2017


5892 Comments


sweet album art. I'm interested

Digging: Dr. Dooom - First Come, First Served

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2017


2922 Comments


@Panzer: I know that, but his art is far less defining or special now. It's less common and it is far more exclusive to shitty brocore bands now. Seagrave has fallen, his time is over.

And Girardi is amazing, but his art adorns more heavy and black metal bands. His art barely, if ever, has much sway in the death metal scene. No, Gonzalez is definitely the modern day essential death metal artist. His style evokes the same feelings and surreal, morbid style that Dan Seagrave did with his classic covers.

evilford
March 4th 2017


40532 Comments


yeah the cover rules. will have to check, embodiment of death was pretty good

Deschutes
March 4th 2017


441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love more straightforward Death Metal with fat riffs left, right, and center like this so much. It's so simple, but I can just put it on and jam out at any time and love it.

ShadowRemains
March 4th 2017


24777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is damn good, definitely a step up from embodiment

Deschutes
March 4th 2017


441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel like Embodiment of Death had a couple tracks with better riffs than most of the ones found here, but overall, this album is slightly better. Love both of them though.



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