Musmahhu – Reign of the Odious

Band: Musmahhu
Title: Reign of the Odious
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Release date: 18 January 2019
Country: Sweden
Format reviewed: Digital Promo

Derived from ancient Sumerian legends of an “Exalted Serpent”, a MUSMAHHU is a mythological hybrid of serpent, lion, and bird. Suitable, as this aptly named Swedish duo successfully merge influences and styles, delivering a vile blend of thick putrid death metal while still retaining many components of quick ferocious black metal. Leaving no time to spare since their debut EP in spring of 2018, MUSMAHHU follow up their formula of rotten death with another devastating show of pungent strength with ‘Reign of the Odious’. While the debut EP was an all out assault of swarming guitars and unrelenting drumming, the first full length features many more layers while still managing to retain the aspect of raw fury. Think of it as Spectral Voice meets Plaga with a dash of Taphos, taking the time to explore down tempo riffs and heavy atmospheres as well as deep cuts from the haunting guitars and intricate drum work. 

MUSMAHHU begin to set the mood with “Apocalyptic Brigade of Forbidden Realms”, starting with an eerie and sinister guitar scream overtop a Nile style breakdown, and heavy sludgy solo work paired with heavy as hell drumming. I enjoyed the next few songs on the album a lot, with the mix of slow and seething breakdowns, heavy ambience manifested by the guitars, and sharp pointed tremolo-picking. This mix of blackened old school death makes for an extremely satisfying experience with songs like “Slaughter of the Seraphim” offering up some Scream Bloody Gore vibes while still maintaining a raw connection to bands like Gorgoroth and Dark Funeral.

Things take a brief pause mid-album with the “Burning Winds of Purgatory” which offers a haunting dirge that rips a hole into the void, unleashing a darker, thicker, yet almost (dare I say) melodic death metal overtone near its conclusion. One of my favourite moments of the album comes during the title track, “Reign of the Odious”.  After a mix of dark rhythms and quick pick work comes an insidious breakdown that I can only assume signals the arrival of the Odious; laying down a heavy and slower than usual drum beat followed up by another dose of swarming guitars and a completely eviscerating solo. MUSMAHHU close off the album with “Spectral Congregation” and “Thirsting for Life’s Terminus” which speeds things back up again before ending off in a slow serenade, providing a satisfying close to what’s been a terrific and horrific trip through the catacombs.

MUSMAHHU’s sound is huge and heavy as hell on this album, feeling crisp and refined while still retaining that feeling as if it were produced in the very dank crypts my mind wanders while I listen. ‘Reign of the Odious’ delivers long tortured melodies that burn through the heavy distortions and deep rhythms creating thick riffy undertones throughout the album. Aside from a few breakout moments of quick and decisive solo work, the drumming provides many of the most memorable moments. Taking point a number of times throughout the album, the drumming consistently demonstrated incredible stamina and a keen ingenuity on fills as well as beat and symbol transitions. The vocals across the album are equally up to par, with a diversity of growls, exploring a few different ranges as well as some more controlled spoken word and visceral shrieks, working well to add yet another interesting layer to the already heavy atmosphere of the music. There are moments throughout ‘Reign of the Odious’ that require slow concise brooding and there are moments of pure heart pounding fury, but every moment is well worth your time! 8.5/10 Metal Yeti

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8.5/10 : To Greatness and Glory!
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