Bedsore – Hypnagogic Hallucinations Review

What’s in a name? Everything and nothing. Death metal has always flirted with the ridiculous in an effort to conjure distasteful imagery. However, Rome’s Bedsore seem to be walking a fine line between punishment and parody. But at a glance, the legendary Gorguts hardly suggests unnatural excellence. Now, their name simply reminds us of humble beginnings. Similarly, if you glanced at Bedsore’s moniker, rolled your eyes and moved on, then, to quote the immortal Ronnie James Dio: fool, fool. Debut album Hypnagogic Hallucinations eschews the genre’s usual evisceration plague in favor of a journey that traverses the oneiric to the benthic. Old school death metal blackens and batters on a psychedelic wavelength more comparable to a Chuck Schuldiner led Morbus Chron. But comparisons are cheap and the proof of the abscess remains in the weeping.1

By name alone you might assume that Bedsore wield the same corpulent rhythms as Autopsy or Obituary. As it happens, it’s a more serrated collection of synonyms that supplant the cro magnon crush of those gangrenous entities. Instead, Schuldiner’s guitar blueprint is all over this record, particularly in the rhythms. Fortunately, this is far from another musical excuse to mimic that man’s work. “Deathgazer” borrows heavily from Human, but never fails to impress under its own steam. Similarly, “The Gate, Closure” undeniably mirrors Disincarnate’s murderous but plaintive melodies. While these influences are clear, Hypnagogic Hallucinations lovingly celebrates these parallels without ever appearing derivative. That sense of self turns out to be Bedsore’s greatest asset.

The band’s sound has clearly been molded by the ossuaries of old, but Bedsore constantly reach for new ground, evident in the key-laden opening track. While spooky intros are de rigueur(mortis) in death metal, I’ve always rather wished they would fuck right off. “The Gate, Disclosure” threatens redundancy, but it soon becomes clear the band are game for something a little more involved. Spacey ambiance swells into a heavy crescendo but settles down again and bubbles along under its own innate progression. The song immaculately introduces “The Gate, Closure” and the album proper, but never feels disposable, which is a rarity in death metal these days. In fact, the album unfolds naturally. Each transition – from riff to riff and track to track – feels organic. Even when “At the Mountains of Madness” changes the game. Bedsore’s death metal binding holds fast as the song expands their identity to accommodate some very blackened elements. Dissection. and even classic Opeth are familiar in the brew. Jacopo Gianmaria Pepe’s already rasping growls alter to fit the black aesthetic, as do his riffs. Even drummer Davide Itri gets in on the act with a flourish of icy blasts. It’s a great track and a bold highlight.

Nothing is perfect and Hypnagogic Hallucinations is no exception. Bedsore are keen to manufacture a distinct atmosphere, which they do, but sometimes it borders on self-indulgence. Much of the keys trail off for a little too long, and the last two songs are the worst offenders. “Disembowelment of the Souls (Tabanidae)” teases with some lumbering palm-mutes but generates a vacuum at its center that reliably stalls my attention. Closer “Brains on the Tarmac” opts for more of that blackened edge and even bargains with some seductive melodies. Unfortunately, the second half is so steeped in fabricated mesmeric sequences that I can’t help but feel every second of its run time. In the context of the record, these are relatively minor quibbles. Especially when “Cauliflower Growth” provides such immersive quality. Giorgio Trombino (Assumption Haemophagus) guests, whose synths and deeper vocal spot really affords the song its own identity. Even in the grinning face of the Death-laden solo…

Old school death metal is an odd thing. Superficially, it’s simply the genesis of a genre. That it still maintains such vitality, however, is due to its inherent capacity for expansion. Which, ironically, is something its detractors fail to grasp. Bands like Bedsore understand this. Their material isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel; rather, it attempts to be as creative as possible within the band’s preferred scope. With that in mind, Hypnagogic Hallucinations is a success. It’s both consistently engaging and a reliable celebration of death metal’s skeletal roots. Any fan of the style would do well to afford Bedsore’s debut its due, especially as a compliment to Lantern’s latest release. As for those would-be critics… you made your bed, now rot in it.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin Records
Websites: |
Released Worldwide: July 24th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Happy now, Cherd?
« »