Bizarre – Invocation Codex Review

Another day, another metal album flaunting our cosmic insignificance in the face of unfathomable monstrosity. Lovecraft and death metal are like milk and honey, so Lord Cthulhu Almighty, take me to the promised land. Bands like Sulphur Aeon, Abyssal Ascendant, and Catacombs pluck my heartstrings with tentacled grace and eldritch care, taking my mind’s eye to the depths of R’lyeh – and it’s fucking Christmas in the abyss year-round, baby. Put that forbidden knowledge Yule log in me like the King in Yellow’s crooked tendrils, and watch my eyes fuckin’ gleam with obscure occult symbols while the blind daemon sultan Azathoth blasphemes and bubbles at the center of infinity my heart. Crack a cold one with the boys on that one-way trip to Antarctica, cuz I wanna party with the Shoggoth at the mountains of madness.

The latest to join the thralls of death metal-inclined blithering hordes is the simply named Bizarre. Hailing from Spain, the quintet offers veteran blood tribute in the name of The Great Old Ones from members of groups like Wormed, Onirophagus, and Elderdawn, among others. What, then, makes Bizarre, well, bizarre? I was largely expecting a dissonant foray into madness a la Diskord or cavernous subterranean bellowing like Chthe’ilist. More in line with Abyssal Ascendant, debut Invocation Codex offers a platter of thunderous whoop-ass in thick juicy riffs, shredding solos, manic percussion, and hellish vocals, a supernatural shroud draped across its jagged visage. While lacking originality and subtlety, these Spaniards keep Invocation Codex close to the vest in a rip-roaring good time that hints at show-stealing potential down the road.

If riffs satisfy, look no further. Bizarre balances its tar-thick guitar tone with unrelenting energy, riffs taking center stage in galloping gaits (“An Obsolete Creation,” “The Advent of Eternal Pain”) and doom-inflected menace (“Ex Oblivione,” “Souls in Formaldehyde”). Balancing these elements with stunning tastefulness, the real star of the show is Bizarre’s smooth-as-butter songwriting. There is little exaggeration in the fact that no passage overstays its welcome, as kickass passages shift gears at will into the ominous and back again – but not without a well-placed transition. The chaotic qualities are nicely contained without sacrificing integrity. Furthermore, tracks “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “Awaiting the Equinox,” and “The Advent of Eternal Pain” are stunningly composed tracks, balancing the act’s bludgeon-happy proclivities with melodic motifs in solos or flourishes throughout, creating death metal earworms that are far more memorable than what you’d expect from an act this new.

The sad reality of Invocation Codex is that a good chunk of its tracks can blur together, as its contained chaos can result in too much predictability. As such, tracks that surround the highlights tend to fall flat by proxy, especially “In the Bowels of Voormithadreth” and “Ancient Forgotten Tsathoggua,” which pale next to the highlights and worsen thanks to unnecessary interlude “The Call of the Great Old Ones.” Similarly, interludes “Anima” and “The Speeches of the Damned” are completely unnecessary, pumping the brakes and putting a damper on the furious energy. Aside from forgettable or unnecessary tracks, I was also somewhat disappointed with how straightforward Bizarre is with its moniker and proclaimed subject matter, as the relatively unsurprising palette could not evoke the feelings of eldritch horror to the extent that Sulphur Aeon or Catacombs could. As such, much of the unspectacular tracks felt a tad like Nile bonus tracks without the distinctness.

Bizarre may be anything but, but Invocation Codex is still a fantastic release from a band with tons of potential. Expertly written and just plain fun, these Spaniards bow before the mighty riff with fury and passion, even if it comes up short in evoking Lovecraftian atmosphere. Also a tad long at forty-four minutes, there are plenty of moments of fluff to cut, but if “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “Awaiting the Equinox,” and “The Advent of Eternal Pain” are any indication of future success, Bizarre is in for a storied career. Riffy, thick, and hellish in its unrelenting fury, Invocation Codex is a must for death metal purists, even if it may fall short in evoking eldritch madness.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Websites: bizarredeath.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/bizarremetal
Releases Worldwide: October 29th, 2021

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