Review Summary: No longer just an OSDM revival act.
2014 was a pretty good year for Horrendous to say the least. The band dropped Ecdysis
, the critically acclaimed follow-up to an already well received debut, and seemed to firmly solidify their place in the old school death metal revival. Ecdysis
was absolutely impressive in its execution, nailing the old school influences with just enough progression added to keep it from feeling like a stale retread of the originators. The sound suffered a bit from not being terribly adventurous, and lacking a sound Horrendous could totally call their own. Thus, the question in 2015 is whether that issue would be addressed with their next outing, Anareta
. The answer? A frighteningly confident yes.
To say that Horrendous stepped it up on Anareta
is an understatement: they turned everything up to 11 and then some more for good measure. It’s flashier, it’s more progressive, it’s more melodic, and frankly, it’s a whole lot more of everything. Digging deeply enough uncovers some of the more prominent influences (Death, Dismember, hell even some Heartwork
-era Carcass believe it or not), but the result is all Horrendous. The biggest area of change is the shifting away from OSDM in favor of far more melody. The lead work really steals the show here, channeling both 80s heavy metal and Swedish death metal with wild abandon.
After a build-up of harmonized guitars, “The Nihilist” opens up the record in a fashion both frightening and oddly welcoming. The manic, scathing wail that sets the track off into thrashing riffs has about as much kick as a shot of adrenaline straight to the vein. Whatever their ambitions with Anareta
, this track is enough to prove that Horrendous lack for nothing in energy and confidence. One detail to note is that the vocals have noticeably changed since Ecdysis
, being layered much more heavily than the more traditionally OSDM style previously. They tend towards a high scream predominately (though some haunting chants appear welcomingly on “Ozymandias”), and were it not for small measures like the instrumental track “Siderea”, the potential to grate on the listener would certainly be there. Despite clearly being an acquired taste, they fit Horrendous’ sound like a glove.
In sometimes cliché fashion with overwhelmingly well executed albums, it’s difficult to name standouts on Anareta
simply because every track is a standout in its own way. “The Nihilist” smashes eardrums like no other, “Siderea” is an early, shining example of their progressive tendencies, and “The Solipsist (Mirrors Gaze)” is one hell of a measured, well-constructed closer that hits on all the band’s aspects (especially a gorgeous clean guitar intro). However, given time you could find something each track does well to distinguish itself. The production deserves its share of commendation as well. None of modern death metal’s tendency to overproduce and brickwall is found here. Instead there’s an organic, even mix with just enough grit to please the old school fans.
The naysayers that said Horrendous didn’t have a unique sound on Ecdysis
simply don’t have the same fuel for the pyre here. Anareta
remedies every nitpick one could dig up on previous recordings without sacrificing anything in songwriting or instrumental prowess. The band have found themselves on this record and it shows. Anareta
proves to be nothing less than a momentous achievement for forward thinking death metal in 2015.