Dearth – To Crown All Befoulment [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

I just like violent music. Death metal is the last word in musical aggression but it knows many phrases. Bone-crunching verbs and enough unsavory adjectives to terrify the dead all terminate in one fatal piece of punctuation. California’s Dearth utilize their pen to grave ends. Debut album To Crown All Befoulment is a monstrous work of churning death metal, pierced with dissonance and trailing black blood. If you thought you knew aural ugliness in 2020 then steel your nerves. This abomination still has superlatives to spill even as the year fades into yesterday.

Traditionally, we all know what blackened death metal means. Big riffs, black metal tuning and an increase in tremolos. Dearth are far more inclined to ingest the crux of each genre and regurgitate the base elements in a torrent of ash. Although the album is relentless and best experienced as a whole, Dearth certainly aren’t incapable of writing discernable moments. “Writhing in Cellophane Cages” and “The Reverence of Swine” both deal in small abrasions amidst the bludgeoning. These brief repetitions act as focul points until the nihilism of black and the punishment of death reconvene to, quite literally, Crown All Befoulment. The affront to basic decency whispers over every note.

Guitarist Connor Allen’s grinding passages strike a fine synergy with Justin Divver’s inhuman drumming. Every now and then, a little of that New York school of rhythm rears its head in their interplay. “Autoasphyxia” occasionally pauses it’s bluster to focus on more mid-paced intricacies while “Death Sown in Polluted Soil” builds on a dissonant foundation to volatile heights. Thematically, the album appears to exacerbate as it proceeds. To Crown All Befoulment peaks with “Blight,” a fever-pitch of vile incantation that reveals Dearth as a single-minded entity that leaves nothing but molten spite in its wake.

I’ve enjoyed some vicious albums in my time but Dearth have succeeded in conjuring some of the most innately hostile death metal I’ve heard all year. Since the album’s release, I’ve often found the experience to be strangely cathartic. The record’s apoplectic nature has helped me exorcise more than a few demons throughout a challenging twelve months. To Crown All Befoulment isn’t likely to turn anyone’s head with a taste for traditionalism. But if, like me, you can’t get enough of that seductive scorn, then do not continue to deprive yourself of one of 2020’s most barbarous cuts.

Tracks to Check Out: There are only six songs… You can do it.

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