I’ve never made any secret of my affection for old school Swedish death metal. Any time a band revs up those rust ridden buzzsaw guitars and proceeds to carve ear drums into a mess of flesh and sinew, I become a willing victim. Not all bands that practice this twisted art form are sourced from Sweden of course, but that doesn’t make their subscription to the style any less relevant or authentic. This is certainly the case for Canada’s Outre-Tombe, who also throw in nods to the likes of Bolt Thrower and Asphyx for good measure. With their sole full length Répurgation having already left an impression on the genre, Nécrovortex has a lot to live up to.
And live up to its predecessor it does. At this point, there’s rarely going to be any radical, groundbreaking advances in the style, so Outre-Tombe simply stick with the basics and go for the jugular; triumphantly slipping away from scene in a blaze of blood soaked glory. The key to their success is the riffs. There are tons of them here, and they’re fantastic. There’s a beauty in the way they move so freely; as weighty as a slab of concrete but as fluid as an ever flowing stream. I can’t recall hearing many riff based onslaughts this good in recent death metal history. As is usual for this sort of band, the thick, raw guitar tone is supplemented by a hefty rhythm section. It is unerring in its heaviness; I’d worry for anyone in the vicinity of this being played with the bass turned up, lest their bones crumble to dust. Crachat’s demented snarl is in fitting with the music, whilst the leads channel the sort of melodious chaos you’d find on Slayer’s late ‘80s/early ‘90s output.
Every song here is good in the very least, and I’m sort of at pains to point out the better tracks here, as I’d hate to cast any shade upon the ones I’d leave out. Opener “La Crypte” is a lumbering beast, and has all the subtlety of a hammer to the face. Once it hits you, you aren’t getting up until the album’s done. “Aberration” is an exercise in devastation, with a convoluted guitar motif and a monstrous, monolithic riff paving way for a swifter form of savagery as the song progresses. “Concile Cadavérique” is certain to induce frenzies in the pit, with the neck snapping interlude riffs maintaining the momentum of the fierce, thrash based riffs prior, despite slowing the speed somewhat. The title track is a violent mix of sweeping tremolo based riffs, dense, ringing chords and fleet-footed gallops, whilst “L’Enfer Des Trenchées” and “Vengeance Spectrale” house the most memorable guitar lines on the record; catchy without compromising the brutality of the forces at work. Of the songs I’ve neglected to mention… they’re pretty much on par with the ones I have, so there’s no issues with consistency to worry about.
It’s safe to say that Nécrovortex delivers and then some. It doesn’t groove quite as much as Répurgation, but it’s just as good all the same. If you didn’t know better, you might mistake it for a lost ‘90s gem, and the quality on offer is almost up there with the classics of that time. Not only have Outre-Tombe produced one of the best extreme metal albums of the year, they have also marked themselves as one of the best death metal bands around at this moment in time. Simply put, if you like death metal, then you need to hear this.
Highlights: “Aberration”, “Concile Cadavérique”, “Nécrovortex”
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