Review Summary: Grooving in the mosh pit
Together with Abominable Putridity, Katalepsy are arguably one of the most prominent brutal death metal forces hailing from mother Russia. Their debut album Autopsychosis
not only catapulted them into international stardom, but it was also one of the best extreme metal releases of 2013. Combining brutal death metal's massive ferocity with groovy hooks (a bit like Suffocation meets Dying Fetus), the band's signature took the underground world by storm, propelling the band into the top positions of the genre. Three years later, sophomore full-length Gravenous Hour
saw the band take a more accessible, standard approach, moving further away from the band's slam roots towards a more groovy, technical signature. This development was not to everyone's liking (myself included), yet I must confess when I now revisited it for this review, I enjoyed it more, which may mean I didn't give it due credit at the time or maybe I was expecting something else. An unfulfilled expectation, some might say. But despite the somewhat controversial journey, the band enters the new decade as one of the greatest exponents of extreme groove metal, along with Dying Fetus and the Brits Dyscarnate.
Terra Mortuus Est
revolves around death-related themes, such as coffins, gates to the underworld, the dead, graves and so forth, thus revealing an obsession with death. But, curiously, we also find some references to stars, which makes me wonder if there might be some kind of connection to any mystical belief related to these celestial bodies, something that unfortunately I haven't had the chance to deepen. As we delve into the album, we quickly realize the band keep focusing on their most recent groove formula, but now through a more refined and confident approach, with stronger identity. The album's first half is rather solid. The opener 'Closer than Flesh' not only serves as a great introduction but also manages to perfectly summarize the band's style at the dawn of the new decade. This track captures the right balance between groove and brutality. The fierce fusion of blast beats, breakdowns and lethal riffs makes this song one of the album's most memorable moments. The band's hybrid signature is still very much present in the following songs such as 'The God of Grave' or the title track, which features an interesting array of riffs and tempo changes. The band's technical performances are flawless, the guitars work in perfect symbiosis as do the drums and bass, mirroring an arduous and meticulous work in the preliminary rehearsals. The album's most uninteresting moments, such as the generic gang chorus in 'Kings of the Underground' or the opening narrative in 'Land of Million Crosses', do not derive from lesser performances, but rather from questionable aesthetic choices. Terra Mortuus Est
loses some momentum in the second half, namely in the last three tracks, however I would like to highlight the Exhorder-esque groovy riff in 'No Rest No Peace' and the blackened notes in 'Land of Million Crosses', which stand out as the most contrasting moments on the album. Despite the inconsistency in the final straight, Terra Mortuus Est
still displays stronger highlights than its predecessor, thus revealing a more focused output.
At the end of the day, I ended up enjoying Terra Mortuus Est
, mainly because I listened to it for what it is, without prejudice and without overly comparing it to Autopsychosis
. I honestly don't know if much of the metal community will be in tune with me, but as far as I'm concerned, not only do I consider it a solid addition to the band's discography, as I think it will most likely be one of the best extreme groove metal releases of the year.