Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stillborn - Los Asesinos del Sur (2011)

Goddamnit Poland, I’m serious! Stop corrupting all my free time, it’s getting out of hand! Stillborn have been around for a dozen years, and this here filthy phantasm is their 4th full-length, a perfectly abstract, putrescent pit of blackened death metal debauchery that will have your soul crying out in terror as it’s subsumed in this psychedelic bog of blood. While the constituent parts of Los Asesinos del Sur don’t all sound equally inspired, it’s the mad Frankenstein creation that is the entirety that feels so ferociously decadent. It’s a bit hard to name direct influences (some odd mutation of 1349, Entombed, Deicide, and mid-era Behemoth), but I feel this will appeal equally to ravaging black metal barons and filthy death fucks equally, a shambling 31 minute monster to accompany you through the coming Fall. Try blasting this from your house come Halloween, and see how many prospective candy cravers have the balls to approach your humble home. My guess is few.

It’s impossible to shake the constant horror movie atmosphere, an old-school charm that will have the greedy hands of Autopsy and Dismember fans wringing in carnal delight. However, this is beyond the rollicking simplicity of the classic Swedish or American gore scenes, with a lot of variety in pacing and notation that belies the simplicity of its innate tone, which is like a couple of mud-covered chainsaws making their way through a mountain of torso’s. Indeed, the death metal aspect is largely in the tone, and as well as the dynamic precision with which the band looses its storms, but the actual riffing is almost without fail quite blackened, purveying a tremolo riffing style that reeks indelibly of darkness. While none of the individual riffs feel incredibly unique, they’re still quite strong, interesting waves of pure hellfire, rolling out and consuming you like a twig in an inferno. The vocals help the stylistic marriage even further along by utilizing lower, drawling grunts (like Glen Benton meets LG Petrov or Nergal). It truly feels like a black metal record that utilizes thick, soupy death metal aesthetics, certainly not a combination I’m used to, but one I seem to enjoy quite a bit. That’s perhaps not so surprising, that I would like the kid, since I’m such an enthusiast of its parents.

Stillborn really nail a dynamic atmosphere here, a sort of primordial land teeming with gouts of fire and psychotically violent spirits on the prowl. This record is all over the place, lurching from frenzied blasting to dilapidated, discordant rhythms with ease, like some hungry corpse shambling towards you, one leg crippled and flopping but still gaining ground. There’s an overwhelming thickness to the sound here, truly submersing the listener, dragging you clawing and screaming into its hellish world. The production is nice and muddy, in a good way, essential to the punishing old-school charm, the bass bubbling up nicely from the fetid, murky, buzzing guitars. Drums are nice and earthy, as is befitting, with a professional finesse and a knack for flow. It’s all pretty damn compelling, and beyond innate familiarity, I don’t really have any problems with it.

The more I listen to this, the more I’m reminded of the excellent Satanica by Behemoth. I’m surprised I didn’t pick up on this earlier, but it really is amazingly similar at its more hurried moments, by far the dominant influence as far as I can discern. That, however, is no bad thing, and Los Asesinos del Sur is a consistent pleasure to listen to, another brigadier in my growing black/death army that likely won’t be gathering dust any time soon. It didn’t blow me away, to be sure, but it was an unfailingly interesting listening experience that grew on me with repeated exposures, an expedition worth the price of admission for the more innately depraved amongst you. Just remember to wear a gas mask, because breathing this shit directly could cause mutations untreatable by modern science.

8 / 10 - Hungry Flames Lick Your Skin