It’s so quiet. It’s 05:55 and the children are still sleeping while I type this review at a card table — one of the few pieces of furniture to be found in our second new home in five months. I’m sitting here watching the sun illuminate the leaves of the many trees in my gigantic new backyard, and I’m finally allowing myself to entertain a glimmer of hope that this all might work out. Ask Mrs. Holdeneye and she will tell you that I can become quite despondent and Eeyore-like when exposed to even mild amounts of stress, so moving twice this year has affected my baseline mood significantly. Perhaps this explains why I’ve been listening to far more death metal during the last few months than is my norm — I’ve been unconsciously trying to vent the frustration that comes from uncertainty and constant change, things I love just about as much as Ron Swanson does.
Next up in my quest for the best audible stress relief squeeze ball is Abhorrent Veneration the sophomore album from Germany’s Carnal Tomb. They play a fun mixture of old school death metal styles, and it sounds like Dismember joined forces with Autopsy and hired Chuck Schuldiner’s spirit to play the solos. “Putrid Fumes” starts things off in style with a short intro of synth and choir, before the guitars enter with feedback, a crushing rhythm, and a killer little solo. But things get really good once the “chorus” arrives with an incredible grooving riff and Cryptic Tormentor spewing the track’s title, and when Phrenelith‘s David Torturdød joins him on that same chorus later in the song, it’s simply sublime.
There are seven songs on Abhorrent Veneration, and each of them has its own character. The title track begins with a nice riff that reminds me of Cannibal Corpse‘s “Death Walking Terror” — one of my favorite death metal songs since I’m a sucker for a gnarly down-picked chug — and maintains a mostly mid-paced march for over seven minutes without seeming to drag, while things go full doom on “Dissonant Incubation,” a track that features some anguished shrieks and closes with a somber funereal lead. The Swedeath is strong with “Amid the Graves” and “Feeding Mold,” the former containing an enormous amount of buzzsaw riffage and the latter featuring a nearly deathcore breakdown as Tormentor unleashes an ungodly, cavernous growl. After beginning with a sampled intro and blasting away for four minutes, closer “Sepulchral Descent” ends with lead guitar slowly playing the devil’s tritone with an extra note thrown in1 for the final two minutes. It’s the perfect bookend for an album that began with a similarly eerie tone and traveled across the old school death metal universe in between.
The production on Abhorrent Veneration is marvelous. Every instrument seems to be exactly where it needs to be in the mix and the record shines with the volume cranked. The latter-day Death leads and solos from Goat Eviscerator2 aren’t what you’d expect and add a beautiful contrast to the disgusting bludgeoning, but drummer Vomitchrist is the key to why this album resonates so well with me. So many death metal albums use the same drum patterns and rhythms throughout, but Carnal Tomb is constantly switching things up and mostly keeps things fresh despite the long song lengths. Trimming a minute here and there could have made Abhorrent Veneration hit even harder, but each of the seven tracks is very good with “Putrid Fumes,” “Cryptic Nebula,” “Amid the Graves,” and “Feeding Mold” all making my Best Death Metal of 2019 playlist.
I wasn’t expecting it, but Carnal Tomb have delivered a steaming pile of filthy yet thoughtful death metal just when I needed it. There’s a lot to dissect here, and while I still need to give the new Tomb Mold the time it deserves, Abhorrent Veneration is my go-to old school death album of the year thus far. Check this one out and give it some time. What at first seemed like a standard OSDM album with long songs eventually revealed itself to be a complex beast worth taming, and I can’t think of a better soundtrack with which to christen my new