Maze of Sothoth – Extirpated Light Review

You know Kenstrosity is all about some Lovecraftian death metal. In fact, Lovecraft-inspired death metal is how I found myself catapulted into extreme metal space in the first place. Having spent innumerable hours listening to almost exclusively corset-core symphonic power metal and metalcore, it was only after I encountered the unbeatable Gateway to the Antisphere—a masterful record that remains my personal standard for all things Lovecraft and all things death—that I even bothered venturing into more extreme waters. But today, I can’t get enough of the stuff. Enter Italy’s Lovecraftian tech-death quartet Maze of Sothoth and their sophomore album Extirpated Light.

Established in 2009, Maze of Sothoth toiled underground, swirling amongst eldritch soil devoid of all life, carefully awaiting their time to emerge. Emerge they did with a twisted debut, Soul Demise, in 2017. Reveling in a grimy, horrid tech death reminiscent of Origin and KronosSoul Demise showed great promise for the fledgling band, fast and vicious were its crooked tendrils. Six years later, Maze of Sothoth emerge again from the inky void with the even grimier Extirpated Light, which makes every effort to wreak havoc in increasingly more technical and even less human ways. Riffs barely hold on to their corporeal forms as wicked solos rip the fabric of space and time apart before our very eyes/ears. The rhythm section carves its own path of obliteration in tandem with rampaging guitars and subterranean vocals, offering no rest for its audience and forcing us all to focus with otherworldly precision just for a hope of grasping what we hear.

The cost incurred by these blisteringly indecipherable omens is dire for us mere mortals. As fittingly named opener “The Unspeakable” demonstrates, Maze of Sothoth jumped the technicality shark, entirely abandoning all of the cohesion and clarity of this record’s predecessor. Whether these unfathomable riffs actually complement the song or not remains difficult to determine, as the muddy mixing obfuscates detail and leaves me struggling to take in the content wholesale. Additionally, it seems that the speedier the licks, the less definition they possess as they erupt from my headphones (also evident in “The Revocation Dogma” and Parallel Evolution”). In other areas, solos spin wildly out of control, falling out of sync with the surrounding songwriting and shooting off into seemingly random directions, which makes them distracting in a decidedly unenjoyable manner (“Eliminate Contamination,” Blasphemous Ritual”). Occasionally, even the drumming loses the plot, completely mismatching any and all riffs or leads, and thereby creates a perilous listening experience (“Blood Tribute,” “Parallel Evolution”). It’s important to reinforce that none of these issues exist on Soul Demise, which is uniformly tight, controlled, and well-arranged.

On the other hand, there are new elements embedded in Maze of Sothoth’s updated sound that once again show promise for the group’s future output. More adventurous explorations of time signature and tempo rescue certain cuts, such as the slammy “The Plague,” the eerie “Sanctae Inqvisitionis” and the off-kilter “Scorn of Flesh.” In these moments, Extirpated Light recalls the excellent Depravity, which will always elicit great interest from this reviewer. Small details like squeaky fret slides and pick scrapes; super-cool doppler synth effects; and ominous clean picking further embellish these highlights and show a level of thoughtfulness given to mood and atmosphere which is unfortunately absent elsewhere. Solos in these superior songs coalesce with their respective song structures better as well, as does the percussion. As a result, this album’s strongest material holds greater substance and grants some memorability to the whole.

It seems reasonable to extrapolate, given my experience with Extirpated Light in direct contrast to its predecessor Soul Demise, that what we have here is an album rife with growing pains. Maze of Sothoth are exploring deeper into their identity, challenging themselves freely and without fear. Their output suffers for that experimentation today, but my guess is that it will pay off in big dividends down the road. Despite the low score you see below, I still believe Maze of Sothoth to be a good band, and that they have a barn-burning record in them yet. It’s only a matter of finesse and refinement in their approach before they realize that potential in due time.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 24th, 2023

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