Fornicus – Sulphuric Omnipotence Review

Fornicus was a name I never expected to see in our promo bin again. Formed in 2012, this Kentucky group first came to my attention with their terrific 2014 debut Storming Heaven, a sweaty and dynamic piece of blackened death metal that at times reminded me of other great American acts like Ares Kingdom and Abominant. The band would increase their black metal influence with 2016’s Hymns of Dominion, an album that I enjoyed but admittedly found slightly inferior to its predecessor. Following Hymns the band apparently had some lineup issues and soon went almost entirely silent on social media, leading me to believe Fornicus was another promising act that we’d lost to the abyss of the underground. But lo, out of nowhere two of the band’s founding members have now returned with third album Sulphuric Omnipotence, a work they’ve apparently been quietly toiling away on since 2017. Like an infernal beast rising from the pits of Hell, Fornicus is here once more to rain fire and brimstone down on us all, and I’m more than welcome to this development. Embrace the fire, embrace the fukkin death!

Fornicus say their music was “birthed from the cesspool of America’s bible belt,” which should tell you a lot about what you’re about to experience. These Kentuckians have a sweltering hot sound that’s dripping with blasphemy and overflowing with thick buzzy riffs. If Profanatica were faster and employed less tremolo riffing, they’d sound an awful lot like the material on Omnipotence. The production is suitably fiery and oppressive while keeping things expansive and discernible, with vocalist Scott Briggs adding some demonic menace to it all by alternating between phlegmy rasps, deep grumbling growls, and even brief chanted cleans. This album truly is a big nasty soup and I love every drop of it.

It doesn’t hurt that Fornicus sound quite reinvigorated. Opener “Perdition’s Guiding Winds” shows this outright by following its slow and menacing Hellhammer intro with the fastest blast beats I can ever recall hearing from the band. As he did on Hymns, Briggs once again handles drumming duties and seems to favor blasting much more than the measured tempos of Storming Heaven, giving Omnipotence a furious feel while pulling it closer to the black metal side of the black-death spectrum.

Admittedly, Hymns also heightened the band’s black metal influence, yet Omnipotence goes further and feels more fully realized. Compared to its predecessor, this album features a lot more ideas and generally makes better songs out of these ideas. The aforementioned “Guiding Winds” is a seven minute smorgasbord of songwriting goodness, with roaring riffs that surge like lava soon giving way to melodic Naglfar tremolos before a colossal doom metal passage shatters whatever bones weren’t already broken. “Vitriolic Proclamation” adds some variety by taking the opposite approach, with its two minute assault sounding like Proclamation or other bestial blackened death metal on the Nuclear War Now! roster. Somewhere in between lay songs like “The Abhorrent Path” and the title track, which feature low twisted tremolos and stampeding riffs that made my inner Archgoat fan perk up. Late highlight “One Mass Grave” stands out with its peppy rhythms and closing shouts of “All hail!,” while closer “Usurping the Throne” ends things in the best way possible with its sharp and almost mournful melody. Both Briggs and bandmate Chris Carver played guitars on Omnipotence and suffice to say they did a great job stuffing these nine tracks with plenty of incendiary riffs.

In fact, I’d go as far to say that Sulphuric Omnipotence is one of the best extreme metal albums of the year so far. This is more than a grand return from a group I thought was gone for good, this is a blasphemous triumph that’s sure to please anyone with a passing interest in blackened death metal. Though I still find Storming Heaven a bit more memorable, Omnipotence is nonetheless packed with plenty of variety and songs that burn with inspiration while expanding the group’s sound into even more blackened and foreboding territories. When the book of American blackened death metal is written, Fornicus will have earned their place in it and Sulphuric Omnipotence will be the reason why. I’d say I can’t wait for what this group comes up with next, but that feels silly when something this good is here right now. Hail Fornicus, hail fukkin death!


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Negative Earth Records
Websites: fornicus.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/fornicus666
Releases Worldwide: June 15th, 2020

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