Review Summary: Man is just a ragdoll in the hands of blackened death.
The Polish black metal scene has been boiling for years with a constant influx of new bands carrying the torch of the Norwegian second wave further to uncharted corners. Spearheaded by bands like Behemoth or Mgla, the boundaries of the genre have been stretched out both in substance and execution. The path has been paved for exciting new formulas like Batushka, known for introducing innovative elements like Gregorian chants or, in this case, bands like Outre who, mixing it up with other forms of extreme metal, have become an example of how effectively the genre is evolving in those parts.
In this Hollow Earth
, Outre's sophomore album and first work for French label Debemur Mortir, the quintet from Kraków shows how much they have improved in only a few years. This is partly a result of solidifying their line-up, now fronted by the monstrous growls of new vocalist Mateusz Zborowski. If 2015's Ghost Chants
had already positioned Outre as a stunning newcomer, Hollow Earth
is the knockout punch.
The existential themes present in Outre's work continue to unravel in their latest release. The album pivots around the idea of "spiritual solitude", turning every song into a horrendous depiction of the unavoidable demise of our existence as human beings. The overwhelming impotence of being confronted with the very reasons of our existence is fleshed out viscerally in the wall of sound that plagues Outre's latest release, from the very beginning to the very end.
Setting the tone with a short but fitting introduction called "Spheres Within", Outre blasts the door wide open with "The Order of Abhorrence". The first track already shows a brighter and sharper sound in comparison with their previous effort, although the band seems to preserve their love for destructive riffs and sludgy sections. The intense and meticulously chaotic drumming of Maciej Pelczar is one of the elements that soon stand out in Hollow Earth
. His impressive blasts furiously lash out relentlessly in tracks like "Aberrations", while menacingly building up and exploding in "Combustion", one of the album’s many highlights. In doing so, the rest of the band remains free to weave the withered strings that form the body of Outre's latest release. The result is a wide array of ghostly passages and an inexorable sense of dread and misery. Zborowski's vocals continue the grave, guttural legacy of his predecessors, but his approach seems to be less jutting, blending better with the overall storm that is happening around him. In little more than half an hour, Outre manage to display the horrors of a lifetime, leaving it to the lengthy title track to consume the last remnants of putrid flesh of the album's corpse before vanishing and spitting out the carcass.
might not be the messiah that black metal needs, mostly because the genre doesn't need one. As it stands, it is a blazing affair, one that Outre can be proud of having conceived, and one that significantly positions them as a band to have under watch in years to come.