Azath – Through a Warren of Shadow Review

I’ve been riding a wave of very good death metal promos recently, and since it would be sheer madness to walk away from the table when you’re beating the house, I’m doubling down. How could I not grab Through a Warren of Shadow, the debut record from Azath, when it has a sweet image of a stately mountain-perched dragon on the cover? A relatively young band, Azath released a demo in 2018 with a lineup consisting of vocalist/bassist Derek Orthner (Begrime Exemious), guitarist Brandon Corsair (Dragkhar), drum machine “Vvornth,” and guitarist Andrew Lee (Ripped to Shreds). For the debut, they’ve enlisted the help of a human drum machine named Pierce Williams (Lord Gore, Torture Rack) in an effort to fully flesh out their brand of Malazan Book of the Fallen-themed death metal.

Azath is an old school death metal band but with drumming that tends towards the brutal end of the spectrum, riffing that often veers into raw black metal territory, and deep, reverberating belched vocals. After checking out the demo, I must say that the addition of Williams is huge, and the impact is immediately felt on first proper track “Draconian Impalement” with its powerful blast beat intro. The song is a great example of how Lee and Corsair churn out riffs that are just as likely to sound like monster patties pulled through a death metal meat grinder as they are icy blackened shards flung straight out of hell’s frozen depths. Orthner pulls double bottom end duty, spewing forth low Phrenelith style gurgles and growls while anchoring everything with his rumbling bass.

Not counting its two short, atmospheric, feedback-laden bookend tracks, Through a Warren of Shadow is 32 minutes of almost pure blasting aggression. “Mortal Sword” is a three-minute snapshot of the band showing off all of its strengths by beginning as grooving death metal, moving into a blackened thrash riff, breaking for a melodic solo, and rethrashing to a close. “Knight of Chains” is a Morbidly Angelic scorcher, the title track serves as an epic centerpiece complete with moody solo section, and “Shifting Forms” closes things out as a furiously varied and potent album highlight. Just compare the new version of the latter with the version found on the 2018 demo and you’ll see just how much of a difference the presence of Williams makes and how much Azath has leveled up their sound in general.

Through a Warren of Shadow sounds excellent. The drums have an enormous impact and the coffee-can snare that I’ve often avoided must be growing on me, because I really enjoy it here. When combined with the throwback guitar tone and gnarly vocal recording, the drum sound gives the record a decidedly underground feel that will have you cranking your stereo to volume ranges that most suave, modern metal won’t allow you to use. As far as criticism goes, I could do without the intro and outro. It would be one thing if they contributed to the overall package, but since they are mostly feedback and muffled sound effects, I found myself skipping them after my initial few listens. Even after more than a dozen spins, it can be hard to tell where I’m at in the runtime due to some homogeneity, but the overall quality is high enough that I honestly don’t care where I am when it’s playing. Standouts include “Mortal Sword,” “Knight of Chains,” “Shifting Forms,” and the title track.

I’m pleased to report that my well of solid death metal releases has not run dry. Azath has designed a winning formula on their debut, and if you’re a fan of OSDM, Through a Warren of Shadows is certainly worth half an hour of your time.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Pulverised Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 17th, 2020

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