What’s old is new again. Many new bands are ravaging old graveyards to exhume rotting corpses of bands and styles long since past their sell-by date. 70’s proto-doom, 80’s retro-thrash, and now, 90’s fuzzy Swedeath are the templates that bands are utilizing to create their own legacies. UK’s Sheol are the newest duo to bring out the rotting, zombified corpses of early Dismember and Darkthrone into the sunlight (studios) with their debut EP, Sepulchral Ruins Below The Temple.
Right off the bat, instrumental opener “Spiritual Dessication” with a lurching atmosphere recalling The Karelian Isthmus-era Amorphis and very early Entombed before launching into “Deluge of Tehom,” showcasing some pretty good, filthy riffing and subterranean growls by A.H.S. (also handling bass duties). However, “Deluge of Tehom,, although a great song, also highlights the problems I have with the EP as a whole. The drumming of A.B.S. (also co-guitarist) is pretty rudimentary, almost to the point where it sounds like he is playing an entirely different song than his co-hort. Their cover of Darkthrone‘s “Cromlech” suffers greatly because of it.
The other problem is the production. Sunlight Studios-produced albums were notoriously dirty, filthy, heavy affairs that were loved because of their overdriven, compressed charm. This EP sounds too overdriven and compressed, as if someone took a copy of Left-Hand Path and fed it through a DigiTech Death Metal guitar pedal with the LOW knob cranked to maximum settings before ripping the damn thing off. Brutal, yes. But it also makes the guitars muddled and way overly fuzzy. Combine that with the vocals and drums turned up too high, and it kills the enjoyment. It’s a shame too, as there are good ideas on this EP (the frenzied riffing on “Perpetual Descent Into She’ol” and the end of the title track, for instance) that hint of better things to come.
I love dirty, filthy death metal, and there are some great riffs on here, but I feel like Sheol are providing just a sample of the destruction they are easily capable of. It may not hit all the right buttons, but they could with the next album or two.