Iceland, a nation built from the descendants of Vikings; it’s known for the people’s propensity for eating putrid, rotten shark meat and for being the filming location for the ever popular GAME OF THRONES. By the way, who’s winning this season, the dungeons or the dragons? Never mind, I don’t care. When thinking about the music from Iceland, one would typically think BJÖRK or SIGUR RÓS, but the country that jailed its bankers during the economic downturn also offers some amazing Death Metal.
I recently had the opportunity to get a listen to Ephemeris, the new album by BENEATH. This thing rips. Although, I’m not exactly surprised, considering the group is signed to Unique Leader Records, the label that brought us FALLUJAH. The record is seething with all the needed death metal sickness one craves: grinding guitars, guttural vocal spews, stinging leads and hard-hitting drums; however, the music finds a great deal of balance, as well. Throughout the nine tracks, the group doesn’t stay all “TEH BR00TALZ” all the time. The guitars manage to find the ability to intertwine intense melody and harmony with grinding riffs and tremolo patterns, going from frenzied to awe-inspiring.
“Cities of the Outer Reaches” provides an outstanding example of the breadth of sound found on the disc, with harmonizing octave riffs and soaring leads dancing effortlessly with chunky tech-riffs. The whole thing kicks off with a demented clean riff that blasts into abrasive rhythms, expediting to an intense beatdown. “Eyecatcher ” begins on a faster note, but breaks down to more melodic passages, and closes with an enigmatic clean guitar duality. Similar nodes can be heard throughout the following cuts, such as “Guillotine”, “Medium Obscurum”, and the title track.
While BENEATH isn’t reinventing the wheel, what they are doing is perfecting it. Ephemeris brings crushing heaviness and momentary sections of respite, fueling the ideal fire desired for a Melodic Death Metal record. While allowing this disc to traverse into the space between your ears, heads will bang, cocks will be punched but you’ll also get a great taste of precise harmony. So on August 18, be sure to grab this one. You need it. And you can thank me later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM