Blasphematory – The Lower Catacombs

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Crawling out from the putrid catacombs the U.S. death metal act Blasphematory steeps deeper into old school brutality on their sophomore release 'The Lower Catacombs'. Formed in 2018 the New Jersey trio of Joe Aversario (bass, guitar, and vocals), Chris Warhead (drums) and Tom Deceiver (rhythm guitar) has succeeded in defining their sound. Blasphematory molds the grisly and vile essence of cavernous death metal. Like the creeping mist cascading over the swampy waters, the vocals maintain a creepy effect. Thudding bass guitar and the sinister atmosphere of the intense riffing, as well as the crushing drums, take its classic place in the composition.

Although the type of music on the sophomore ‘The Lower Catacombs’ isn’t actually played in the straightforward style, the tenebrous tone of the guitars set a dark and muddy sound. The opening track ‘Cruciform Shadows’ is raw, brutal and perfectly amalgamates the 90s sound of death metal. The guitars exploit the subterranean settings. Throughout the album, the rhythm guitars offer plenty of hooks. The dense approach to death metal is brought by the down-tuned riffs and cavernous vibe of the growls, which are filthy, malevolent and brutal. Songs like ‘Unclean Eulogies’ will give you goosebumps though the general focus of the music beckons the classic Incantation, Morpheus Descends and early Imprecation.

The songwriting centers on the barrage of riffs. The opaque atmosphere generated by the intense percussion creates a wall of sound. Blast beats and double bass offer the filthy excretion of the down-tuned riffs. Blasphematory exhibits the old school Obituary-esque kind of grooves with a mostly overwhelmingly muddy guitar tone. Morphing slowly to mid-tempo, the drums are constantly heavy. There are some blasting sections, whilst the tempo is always changing.

With heavy distortion and muddy guitars churning out sickening riffs, the sense of old-school obscurity is perfectly balanced and this is the album’s main strength. While the vocals are mainly low and guttural, the guitars and the pounding bass create an eerie energy. There are some influences from early Cianide, particularly from the first albums. ‘Perpetual Despair’ is a mid-tempo track that combines heavy guitar dirges, bolstered by the mummified growls as the drums rattle in creepy unison. Blasphematory has managed to bring something fresh and organic to the table. There is an abundance of grisly riffs going on throughout the 7 tracks. The songwriting defines the band’s inspiration to the early 90s style of U.S. death metal.

The bass guitar perfectly contrasts with the pounding drums and the sewerage riffing, ‘The Lower Catacombs’ is unfathomably piled with these filthy elements. The slow tempos on the album verge close to the realms of death/doom metal. With the unspeakable horror that lurks beneath the riffing and the gnawing guttural growls, the bass guitar takes extra credit for creating a condensed atmosphere. While the drums alter between slow and fast tempo changes, the majority of the songs feature some dark and slow infectious moments. ‘Flooded Graves’ is the highlight of this album. Like on the opening track the rhythm guitars here play a substantial role in adding a maximum cavernous effect. With this haunting experience of  dense and brutal riffing, the lead-laden guitars are immensely down-tuned. The drums often combine double bass, providing a sense of cavernous brutality.

To a certain degree ‘The Lower Catacombs’ often channels complex and obscure patterns. The drumming arrangements include snare, blast beats and crashing cymbals. ‘The Corruption of Saints’ demonstrates their intellectual songwriting skills. The slower tempos often articulate a style akin to death/doom metal. Even though there is plenty of rawness, the songs are rather muddy. The raw and old school production is another factor that provides this grisly tone for the album.

The songwriting resulted in mixing chunky riffs with the lead guitars. Therefore, the album has two obscure styles: one that seems to be divided into mid pacing death metal while the other can be described as doom metal. The album’s closure ‘The Lower Catacombs’ retains these sections simultaneously. With the effect of the lead guitars, slow pacing drums and the deep growls, there are plenty of crafty and infectious riffs to be found here.

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 9/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
  • Mix / Production 8/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 9/10
8.6

‘The Lower Catacombs’ is a huge step up for the New Jersey trio that has managed to release one of the best and finest death metal albums of 2022. This comes highly recommended for fans of Cianide, Morpheus Descends and Incantation.

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