Rising from the depths in 1989, Dutch death metal outfit ANTROPOMORPHIA have bubbling away in the underground for many a year now. Despite a career spanning nearly three decades, the band have only unleashed two full length records, both arriving in the last five years. Aiming to keep the momentum building, 2017 sees the arrival of album number three, Sermon ov Wrath, but does this new offering from ANTROPOMORPHIA have what it takes to really catapult the band to the forefront of extreme music?
Rather than opening with a prolonged ambient introductory track, Sermon ov Wrath roars into life in an instant through the title track. Here, the track goes full-throttle from the offset with an onslaught of dual riffing from Ferry Damen and Jos van den Brand whilst Marco Stubbe keeps the rhythm in top gear with rapid drumming. It’s hard not to get swept away and as the track unfolds, slick hooks are pushed to the forefront through thick bass lines which encourage the heads to bang. Offering a brief respite through a doom-tinged tempo change, akin to fellow countrymen ASPHYX, adds a sprinkling of variety to the track before concluding with the tempo firing back up to top gear. A rapid and ferocious opening indeed.
From there, Sermon ov Wrath continues to batter the ear drums with sheer death metal monstrosity. Suspiria de Profundis boasts powerful hitting blasts from the drums which enhance Ferry Damen‘s guttural snarls whilst the dual assault of the guitars ebb and flow acting as a solid counter balance to the maintained speed from Marco Stubbe‘s double bass drumming. It’s clear at this point, that Stubbe‘s drumwork is a cornerstone for ANTROPOMORPHIA‘s impact and it is executed in grand fashion consistently throughout Sermon ov Wrath. Murmur ov the Dead presents another dosage of blistering speed through this key element, with subtle tempo changes in the speed adding to the overall impact of the guitar work from Ferry Damen and Jos van den Brand, which unfold in dark undertones akin to BEHEMOTH. At times, it’s utterly mesmerising as ANTROPOMORPHIA effectively create an immersive atmosphere that is utterly menacing and so satisfying to experience.
For the most part, Sermon ov Wrath is a death metal record through and through, but there are a few surprises that really steal the show. Following a short but atmospheric break in ferocity through Ad Me Venite Mortui, Crown ov the Dead is the standout track on the record. Standing at a mighty seven minutes and forty seconds, this track is monolith in size, not just because of its length but due to the expansive soundscape that is explored here. Momentum is build steadily here, rather than exploding from the off, which creates a haunting atmosphere before unfolding into a blistering display of double bass blasts from the drums and intertwining guitar play whilst Damen‘s guttural blasts ride above the chaos. The pace is maintained consistently, ebbing and flowing in grand rhythm and the addition of female clean vocals only enhances the atmospheric edge to the track. What this showcases is a development in ANTROPOMORPHIA‘s sound, an expansion which has more than paid of, resulting in a expansive soundscape that is beautifully destructive.
Whilst Crown ov the Dead pushed the experimentation of ANTROPOMORPHIA‘s sound to the forefront, the latter half of Sermon ov Wrath is executed to a more subtle affair. Whilst Sinful Rapture largely offers slamming riffs that boast enough power to level a city, the spoken word element of the track’s conclusion carries evil undertones that really drive home the monstrosity whereas Within Her Pale Tomb ov Putrid Lust‘s solitary bass lines from Marc van Stiphout build anticipation before Ferry Damen‘s explosive vocal deliveries take to the forefront. Whilst it’s a shame that Crown ov the Dead bolsters the most experimentation on the record, the subtlety of this experimentation which is executed throughout Sermon ov Wrath helps ANTROPOMORPHIA enhance their overall sound, without sacrificing their roots in death metal.
Sermon ov Wrath certainly won’t set the death metal world on fire and break boundaries, but overall, this is a record that captures the monstrosity of death metal and fused with sprinklings of atmospheric experimentation, helps it stand firmly on its own two feet. Sermon ov Wrath is jam-packed full of killer riffing and explosive musical traits that showcase a band firing on all cylinders and when ANTROPOMORPHIA showcase their experimentation, the results are truly incredible. Whilst this experimentation could have been pushed more to the forefront, it does not detract from the fact that this is a record that will appeal to anyone who has the ear for the extreme.
Sermon ov Wrath is out now via Metal Blade Records.
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