I hate being sick. I recently recovered from a cold that I received from my year-old nephew that me and the Mrs. Hollow kept passing back and forth to each other ad nauseam. If a cold can be that frustrating, puking is even worse—breaking out in cold sweats and chills while worrying about keeping any form of nutrition down is truly frustrating because nothing seems to make one feel better. It’s probably even worse vomiting fire, which apparently is something Australian death metal group Ignivomous has on their mind because that’s what their name means. Must hurt. Hieroglossia1 is the Melbourne quintet’s third full-length, hoping to capitalize on the slow-burning success they’ve amassed since their formation in 2007. Will their first LP in seven years be straight-up fire? Or will it be merely an ember of their smoldering ashes?
Ignivomous does straight-up death metal, eight tracks of Incantation and Immolation worship smashed into eight tracks and forty-six minutes. Expect the usual: gurgled vocals, blazing riffs, brutal blastbeats, spastic and dissonant guitar solos, and an all-around eardrum pummelin’. Oh, and the drummer/vocalist goes by the name Chris Volcano, which is freaking dope.2 Throw in some Gorguts complexity and some OSDM worship a la Cruciamentum, and you’ve got yourself an enjoyable little piece here, although tragically let down by its lack of identity, moments of poor mixing, and lack of memorability.
Hieroglossia is a brutal album, doing exactly what’s needed to be done by any death metal outfit. Tracks like “Blood and Mercury” and closer “Vitriolic Swarm” are exercises in buttcheek-slapping grooves that verge on slam territory, punctuated with shredding solos and blazing tremolo. However, dissonant cuts like “Circle of Scythes” and “Gaunt Redemption Parasite” feature Gorgutsian dissonant melodies and a nearly doomy plodding ominousness. Centerpieces “Thalassophobia” and “Shackles of the Demiurge” are clear highlights and hitting the sweet spot amidst the noise, offering the most cohesive solos, darkly infectious grooves, and clear songwriting direction.
While there are certainly tracks that hit the death metal bulls-eye, there are also too many suffering from lack of identity, a costly murky atmosphere, and questionable mixing. Tracks like “Cloaked in Resplendent Perdition” and the overlong but initially thrilling title track are not in themselves interesting enough to be highlighted, as they ride the odd line between Immolation dissonance and Our Place of Worship is Silence cavernousness without committing to either, ultimately sounding like an audio identity crisis. In general, the mixing tries to balance murk and punch, sacrificing the latter. While the guitar’s tremolos and grooves sound fantastic, the drums, which sound fantastic when completely isolated,3 are drowned out otherwise, offering a murky sonic palette a la Portal or Altarage. Also, while guitar solos are intended to offer accent to a song, a climax if you will, Ignivomous’ solos suffer from a serious case of “Herman Li having a stroke while covering Psyopus on Guitar Hero” syndrome,4 being overly technical and excessively spastic. Perhaps a pet peeve, although Chris Volcano channels Te Kā viciously barfing lava at Moana, he never wavers from the low guttural tone throughout the course of Hieroglossia.
It’s hard to enjoy all of what Ignivomous has to offer. While Hieroglossia has some moments of the fire that distinguished them as underground heroes over the last twelve years, there’s a gamut that extinguishes it—while their first album in seven years is clearly the work of fiery veterans, I can’t help but smell its smokey amateurishness. It’s written well, it has some neat ideas, but it’s ultimately caught somewhere between the Charnel Passages and a World Below without committing to either. It does what a death metal album is expected to do, and does so with much fire, but it lacks the memorability and depth to go any further. If you’re looking for some lit death metal, look somewhere else, but if you’ve got a burning desire for an eardrum scorching, this should suffice.
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Websites: nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/hieroglossia | facebook.com/Ignivomous
Releases Worldwide: November 15th, 2019