Band: Cryptic Shift / Replicant / Inoculation / Astral Tomb
Title: Chasm of Aeons
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Release Date: 27 November 2020
Country: UK / USA
Format Reviewed: Digital Stream
Blood Harvest are quickly becoming one of my favourite Extreme Metal labels. “Effigy of Nightmares” by Valdrin (read our review here) was a great Black Metal release, while being no strangers to putting out cool split releases, the “4-Way Split” of US Death Metal acts from September this year (review here) was just one example of the label’s ear for bringing together exciting bands from the Extreme Metal underground. Well, they’ve done it again, this time with four sci-fi themed Death Metal tracks, from another four bands. Some more technical, some more brutal, but all killer.
Cryptic Shift from Leeds, UK kick things off with “Cosmic Dreams” (originally released by the band in 2017) and from the get-go it’s in-your-face, intense, technical Death Metal to please all you Death fans out there. The bass is satisfyingly high in the mix and the playing of bass, guitar and drums is all totally locked in together. By 1:55 the band have already stuffed in about 5 great riffs and they roll through tempos and rhythms effortlessly. I sometimes find tech-Death Metal flashy just for the sake of showing off, but this just the right combination of sick, fat riffing and technical chops with some great, fluid lead guitar work.
New Jersey’s Replicant are up next with “Unbeing” and though there was no mistaking the Death Metal style growling of the first track, now we’re really into incomprehensible, rabid bear roars echoing in a cave (I’m not complaining). Going for more of a pounding, pummeling sound, with thick, overdriven distorted riffing and ridiculously heavy low end, this is a little less memorable than the first track, but great nonetheless and makes me want to hear more from the band.
Not letting the intensity dip, “Xerthaneus” by Cleveland, Ohio’s Inoculation is more hard-hitting Death Metal, with an evil sounding, flesh-ripping guitar sound. The breakdown three minutes in is totally demonic. The final track “Transcendence From The Mortal Plane Guided By A Familiar Phantasm” by Denver, Colorado’s Astral Tomb, not only wins the prize for Obscenely Long Song Title but is also the most raucous sounding track on this mini-album. The production is muddy, but damn the track hits hard, you can really feel the energy. The guitars have that great liquid metal, rasping sound that evokes Trey Azagthoth from Morbid Angel. The pace is mostly slower and pounding, with punishing drums and cacophonous, wailing guitars
So, no messing about. 19 minutes, 4 exciting Underground Death Metal bands, a cool sci-themed collection, great artwork, and a treat for anyone who wants to listen to great new Death Metal. Although this was originally released digitally earlier in the year, you can now pre-order the release on vinyl here, and frankly, when the music is this good it deserves more attention. Show the label and the bands some love. 8.5/10 Tom Boatman
8.5/10 To Greatness and Glory!
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.**