Horrendous Ecdysis 01Of all the throwback forms of metal that conjure warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia, the famed Sunlight Studios sound, pioneered in Sweden during the late 80s/early 90’s, remains the most endearing yet oversaturated styles around. For every Bloodbath, Entrails or Blood Mortized there are countless other derivative bands bogged down by their lack of songwriting finesse and fresh ideas. So when East Coast death metal crew Horrendous burst onto the scene in 2012 with their accomplished debut album The Chills, it gave the tired style a welcome shot of adrenaline. They brought tons of energy to the table, skilfully meshing that classic old school Swedish death sound with humid strains culled from the classic Floridian death metal scene. The Chills didn’t quite deliver a knockout blow, but it certainly established Horrendous as a gifted young band worth keeping on the radar. Well, I’ll be damned, because a mere two years later Horrendous have completed one of the more remarkable artistic progressions in recent memory with their near flawless sophomore album Ecdysis.

Ecdysis trumps its solid predecessor by a considerable margin, with virtually every aspect of Horrendous’ makeup, execution and presentation been lifted tenfold. From the songwriting, production and musicianship right down to the striking artwork, Ecdysis absolutely kills. Horrendous’ continue adorning their influences proudly on their sleeves, but everything has been notably chiselled, refined and enhanced from the debut. While there’s a distinctive old school vibe to the material, Ecdysis has its own character and modern inflections to avoid falling into derivative trappings. The band’s riffs, melodies and compositional skills have come along in giant leaps and bounds since the debut, resulting in a far more dynamic and engaging album.

Horrendous Ecdysis 02Although not exactly household names, Damian Herring and Matt Knox deliver spectacular guitar heroics and top shelf riffs in spades, providing many of the album’s thrills and highlights. Whether dishing out gnarled, old school Swedeath riffs, grinding doom-like dirges or getting downright soulful through the swift array of snaking melodies and beautifully crafted guitar solos, the duo’s performance oozes confidence and class. Meanwhile audible basslines actually stand-out and demand attention, nullifying the typical ‘insecure metal bass player syndrome’ of being drowned out by the other instruments. Vocals get the job done pretty well, consisting of dry, raw throated growls reminiscent of Martin van Drunen and Chuck Schuldiner and occasionally embellished by impactful clean vocal incantations.

Each of the ten songs offers something distinct, catchy and memorable in an everflowing stream of old school death metal mastery. From fast, thrashy stompers “Weeping Relic” and “Resonator” to the twisting structures and dynamics of “Pavor Nocturnus,” Ecdysis is a consistent multi-faceted beast from start to finish. Horrendous’ increased use of melody serves as a powerful counterpunch to their more aggressive components, creating a sinister tone and atmosphere to the album. Epic opener “The Stranger” showcases the band’s rapid progression across seven epic minutes of graceful shredding, rollicking groove and fluid dynamic shifts. Even instrumental tracks “The Vermillion” and the slightly out-of-place but excellent trad metal gallop of “When the Walls Fell” leave solid impacts. Ramping-up the doom quotient pays handsome dividends as well, best evidenced on the burly melodicism of “Heaven’s Deceit.” “Nepenthe” is another standout, sounding like a mangled modernized hybrid of Leprosy-era Death and lashings of Heartwork-styled melody, before taking on a life of its own through a stunning climax.

Horrendous Ecdysis 03

Angry Metal Guy himself would surely be impressed by the outstanding dynamics and supreme production and mixing jobs on the album. Ecdysis is armed with a sonically heavy and organic sound that offers clarity, hefty tones and an impeccably balanced platform for the band to work off. The only slight drawback to the album is that Horrendous aren’t pedalling the most original sound around. Even that point is swiftly counteracted by the sheer quality of the songwriting and fresh twists and modern flavors the band effortlessly weave into their old school tapestry.

The term ‘ecdysis’ means the shedding of skin by crustaceans, reptiles and insects, creating fitting symbolism behind the metamorphosis Horrendous have undertaken since their debut release. When all is said and done, Ecdysis is one of 2014’s essential death metal albums. Phenomenal.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: Facebook.com/Horrendous
Release Dates: EU: 2014.10.27  |  NA: 10.14.2014

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    Seems like Morbus Chron finally has some competition for death metal album of the year.

    Bonus points for the fabulous cover art.

    • Daniel

      Dead Congregation, Domains, Drowned, Teitanblood were all better

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I personally liked the last MC more than Teitanblood. As for the others, I have not heard but I will check them out ;)

        • Daniel

          Yeah Teitanblood can get a little too repetitive/war metal droning at times. I still love the advertising blurb on it “Teitanblood take away the misconception about death metal being music.”

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      I love that Morbus Chron record but it’s only barely death metal.

      • mauler77

        yeah the vocals kill it for me a bit

  • Benjamin

    Sweet baby Satan. Dark Descent just keep putting out hammer after hammer.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Great review. Even after hearing this on Bandcamp, this made me even more excited to go back. Definitely one of the better releases of the year. Dark Descent is probably the most reliable label for death metal quality I’ve ever seen, this and Swallowed are glorious.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great review downloading now from Bandcamp! Got a big drive this week and I cant wait to crank this one on the open road.

  • Jean-Luc Ricard

    That embedded track is excellent. Looking forward to listening to the rest of it – sounds like Bloodbath have some stiff competition this year…

    That artwork is also fantastic.

  • Kronos

    This album is fucking cool.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Big drive today, I always find hurtling through barren agricultural landscapes in a steel can a good time to get acquainted with new music. Which is what I did today with this, along with the new GODFLESH and I can heartily recommend both.
    Also on the playlist was the new Earth release, some Nick Cave, smatterings of Death and Carcass, and I gotta tip my hat to these guys, for a young band their release was right at home in some pretty esteemed company.
    Thanks AMG and L Saunders for the tip off, I probably would have missed this if not for you!

    • Luke_22

      No worries Carlos, glad to help out. Although this was an album I had on my radar, I had no idea how great it would turn out to be. Sounds like a sweet playlist as well.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Cheers, it was a good drive!

  • Madam X, my review goes up soon, but I’m so glad you dug this. It is truly an AOTY contender.

  • If you’re blue and you don’t jive where to go to why don’t you go where fashion sits? Puttin’ on a shirt…

  • Sordid Bass

    This is literally the least memorable album I’ve heard… Sure, the production sounds fantastic, but I’ve listened to it 7 times now and cannot recall one part of any song in my head. How is this a 4.5?

    • Selim Baradan

      Overrated as hell. 3.5/5 at most in my opinion.

  • Maese Delta

    I just have to say that the song ‘Titan’ from this album is what I call the perfect Death Metal ballad.

    It’s such a wonderful song, it’s… ‘moving’, and the only song that I think of as equal is ‘Syntaxis Ecliptica’ by Almagest.

    Oh, goddamn, those guitar melodies are out of this world.