Excuse how late I am on this- I was granted this vinyl record as a birthday gift from my ghoulish mistress, but she wasn’t able to give it to me until a week ago upon returning from the dreaded City of “Angels” of Khalifornia.
I’ve always admired the newest wave of hardcore-influenced old school death metal. Noted, most of these bands play on hardcore bills, but feature a much more eye-gouging metallic sound than a two-stepping, youth-driven hardcore sound. I’m guessing a lot of this has to do with those bands’ violent and low sound fitting more on the riffy shelf with beatdown than with that of more melodic metal acts, but that’s not to say that they’re completely unseen on metal tours. NWOBTIDM (New Wave of Bolt Thrower Influenced Death Metal) is just a large trend lately (though it’s been rising through the past decade) that I’m completely unaware of the origins of. I know it can also have something to do simply with sharing record labels. Melotov Records (powerviolence and grindcore house of suffering) and Escapist Records, who are behind the split I’m about to talk about, also carry power and promotion in plenty of modern hardcore settings.
I’m definitely glad Escapist Records decided to distribute and re-release this four-way split, which originally dropped in 2016. Warning: If you or somebody in the room have a phobia of heavy riffs that make your head move against your will- I highly recommend you exit this article and do NOT listen to the record.
The first track, from the increasingly popular Sonoran desert savages known as Gatecreeper, is a perfect opening for the record. “Carved Into Stone” is an eldritch assault of evil upon the ears, and provides for a helpful opening. If anyone is capable of opening a modern true death metal split and providing interest for the rest of the record, it’s Gatecreeper. Plenty of dragging riff and stomping crash make the track easy to get down to for the long-haired guy headbanging at the front of the room with his foot on the stage, as well as for the gorilla in the Purgatory shirt punching his friends in the back of the head.
Homewrecker doesn’t disappoint. Ever, really. The Ohio grinding metal-punk masters provide a masterful break for the first 40 or so seconds of the 6 and a half minute (long for Homewrecker), before thrusting into a catchy and heavy joyous metal track, that ends with the occasional relaxation you see in music videos right before someone gets beheaded. I personally enjoy the vocal melody at that 40-seconds-in break into riff the most. “Perpetrators of Annihilation” is the complicated but straight-forward speed we’ve come to expect from Homewrecker, just six and a half minutes of it.
“Death Worship” by Outer Heaven brings us to the 3 quarters through the record mark. The title is misleading- the band features a slightly more modern feel than the other bands on the record to me, and the track is far from what metal historians would called “Complete and absolute Death worship!” …Okay, guys, I kid. I know that’s not what they meant. The track is very consistent in its substance and intention, and thus easy to hear and concentrate over, which made this paragraph very easy to write while listening to it. I also do want to shake whoever’s hand in Outer Heaven (a band I’d never heard of before hearing about the record) is responsible for naming the band. If you don’t know, “Outer Heaven” is a complicated concept from the already complicated and legendary Metal Gear Solid series of video games.
The final track, which is my absolute favorite on the record, is Scorched‘s “Autopsy Incomplete” that opens with a brooding… synth? Keyboard? What? That’s right- the track has a menacing Carpenter-esque (this track is the pinnacle of what this blog should SOUND like) intro which leads into a heavy and wiry death metal track, with plenty of what sounds like tremolo picking and the occasional. It remains devoted in its riffs and chugs, and I’m a big fan of the vocalist’s style. He doesn’t sound like he’s struggling to keep his words clear but still slightly obscured with gruesomeness, which is commendable in death metal. The track also features what sounds to be the most prolific solo if not the only true solo on the album. It’s very remarkable guitar work before leading into an outro from the same synth menace.
The four way split from Gatecreeper, Homewrecker, Outer Heaven, and Scorched, is a gateway record to modern old school death metal, and provides insight on just how actually well the genre is doing.