Sunday, June 16, 2013

Zombiefication - At the Caves of Eternal [2013]

Zombiefication are yet another addition to Mexico's burgeoning old school death metal scene, and yet another band that straddles the conceptual, thematic and muscular tides of Dismember, Entombed, Grave, etc., forging an iron and cascading barrage of Swedeath riffs that are undeniably all too familiar. I was originally exposed to the group their EP ''Reaper's Consecration'', a worthwhile effort that pounded skulls and rocked skeletal beings just as hard as any other Swedeath act out there, and being released on the notorious Pulverized Records, a semi-underground label that made a name for itself by hiring less known Swedeath doppelgangers from random places across the globe (Graveyard, for instance, from Spain), I believe that the Mexicans attained publicity and success that they previously could not acquire with their debut full-length. That said, Zombiefication's style does not fill the bill for the classic Mexican sound. Not as atrociously scintillating as the wretched Shub-Niggurath with their demos from the early 90's, or as cunning as the more recent offerings of The Chasm, but still, amid a nebulous tenor of bands, Zombiefication finds its way to memorability and distinguishment.

What really baffled me is the distance made by the Mexican duo over less than a year. Despite the avid, seemingly ambitious release it was, calling  ''Reaper's Consecration'' a highly enlightened and innovative offering would be quite far-fetched. When I listen to ''At the Caves of Eternal'' right after I listen to the EP, I'm nearly taken to an entirely different atmospheric world, with generic, vehicular urges of ''Reaper's...'' replaced with a more seasoned, judicious sense of composition and the craggy ambiance exchanged for a much darker, and even beautifully oriented one. I'd say that the Mexicans switched their style from rehashing some hectic, ragged grave robber to a mature serial killer who has countless instruments of torture and murder veiled underneath a long, polished jacket laden with pockets. The duo's style now feels like an edgier and even slightly black-metal oriented version of Necrovation, who, with their self-titled album, completely blew me away last year. ''At The Caves of Eternal'' isn't as good as ''Necrovation'', but I love the fact that it unfolds with primal, brute simplicity, but the explores a range of musical preferences and dexterous approaches that a mad caveman would strive to comprehend even in the slightest sense.

There's a rich, booming texture that binds with the abysmal atmosphere to create a frightening horror background. Not merely as terrifying as some of the recent finds I have exhumed, like the new Vassafor or Cultes Des Ghoules album, but still a spectral wave that befits the band's brand of heavy, churning brutality. Of course, the course of the riffs have taken a rather abrupt turn as well. You still have your standardized vulgar chainsaw barrages that are bombarded through metallic soil and rotten flesh, but at the same time, wisps of melody plod along the balustrades of heaving old school Swedish death metal, and those so called wisps some times take on a larger role, dominating the entire riff pattern with narrating, trudging lead sequences, converting the classic mass zombie invasion scene into a graphic picture of a grotesquely severed zombie ripping a man's guts out with a blunted scalpel. The vocals are akin to Matti Karki at lower growl, and they too have undergone change - the timbre of a crazed cemetery ghoul barking in the night now booms with a wonderfully cavernous inflection.

In very few ways did I find this record agitating: in spite of the immense amount of variation put into it, there was still a feeling of repetition on rare occasions, and the songs could have used some trimming, as it was sometimes a bore to listen to six minutes of subterranean massacre. Nonetheless, I was far more impressed than I anticipated. The punitive and gorgeously murky atmosphere and texture was perfect, giving me taste of a wretched, dismal Dissection on sections where the guitar was being picked with immaculate speed and intensity, the variations in the tempo department was also a great change, and comparing the debut, ''Midnight Stench'' to the cadaverous sophomore is something like comparing a hyena to a fully grown, brawny hell hound. There will some folks who will prefer the raw, unbridled ferocity of the band's previous outing to the their more atmospheric inclinations, thinking some of the energy has left the sophomore, but as far I, and the other fields of music are concerned, ''At the Caves of Eternal'' is an outright winner.

Disembodied Souls
In The Gallery Of Laments
Soul Collector

Rating: 86%

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