Review Summary: Unholy metamorphosis
New Wave of Old School Death Metal is a revivalist genre I've only recently begun to value. Why waste time on something that has already been done in the past？Certainly not because of its artistic relevance or groundbreaking aesthetics, so what made me wake up to bands like Desolate Shrine, Obliteration or Spectral Voice？ As contradictory as it may seem, it was that same retro aesthetics. As the years go by, sometimes it's not innovation or freshness that I seek, but rather a comfort zone where I can enjoy some raw, straightforward metal. Superstition's debut fits perfectly into this personal dimension of entertainment.
The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
is one of those albums that doesn't require deep analysis or complex thesis, since it genuinely mirrors the old school spirit of the late 80s, early 90s, highly focused on sinful messages and lethal riffs. If I had to pick two bands that influenced these Santa Fe lads, it would be early-Morbid Angel and Slayer, yet these references cover only a small spectrum of Superstition's music, as their signature gathers the wide-ranging retro aesthetic that has been shaped over the years. This more straightforward style should not be undervalued, as it represents a relevant underground approach, serving as a counterbalance to all modern sub-genres that flooded the metal scene.
The album's title and its intro "Unholy Transformation Pt. I" (which has 2 more sequels), leaves no room for doubt, a demonic metamorphosis awaits us. "Highly Attuned Beasts of the Dark" bursts out of the darkness, delivering a stream of lethal riffs that dynamically flow through and around us. It's immediately apparent that these twin guitars play the leading role in The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
, they're the driving force behind the album and Superstition's foundations. The band's devotion to Jeff Hanneman & Co manifests itself constantly, finding its most evident momentum in "Spiritual Sunderance", whose main riff is a powerful tribute to one of the most influential forces in metal. This thrash approach is a structuring element in The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
, being the cardinal point that allows us to locate the band's style within the genre. The remaining songs keep a constant quality, being stylistically coherent, thus showing no major deviations from the initial formula. "Passage of Nullification's" mid-paced segment and "Torn in the Outer Lands'" chorus are among the moments I'd like to highlight, as well as the slayer-esque riffs in "Charnel Pleasures", one of the most ferocious songs on the album. It wouldn't be fair to just focus on the riff department, when other ingredients also fairly contribute to the band's musical cohesion. The vocals, featuring a raw approach somewhat similar to Horrendous or Ataraxy, enhance the wicked atmosphere, and the rhythm section also provides a satisfactory performance, even if I don't particularly like the snare's sound, which is muffled and somehow hidden in the mix.
Despite its unquestionable solidity, Superstition still has some room for improvement, namely in guitar solos and vocals, which, although being perfectly adjusted to the style, can gain more dynamics. The band also has to learn the arduous art of creating greater contrasts, in order to avoid some similarity between songs, as is noticeable mainly in the final straight. However, these are just minor details, points for improvement, not calling into question the quality of this release.
The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
is a solid debut of a band that seeks in the past answers to the present, because not everything in life, or music, revolves around innovation. It takes balance, opposite perspectives, and especially someone who reminds us that old school riffs, are still the best riffs.