Stress Angel – Bursting Church Review

Brooklyn is many things, with a strange hodge-podge of peoples and cultures, but it isn’t what one normally thinks of as a hotbed of throwback mega-retro death metal. The duo behind Stress Angel are out to change that with their gritty, scuzzy debut platter, Bursting Church. Featuring a member of Natur and a mysterious co-conspirator, Stress Angel deliver a heaving, hacking old school death sound that’s like vintage Autopsy slammed into Toxic Holocaust with crustcore stuffed in all the gaps like maggot-ridden grout. Sound noxious? It certainly is. Sound exciting? It will be for the subset of metal fans who love all things olde, raw and unpleasant. Sound like they need a better moniker? Maybe…1

After a brief reflective moment with church organs groaning majestically, opener “Flaming Kingdom” lays cards on the table before said table is flipped and burned. It’s thrashy, clunky death metal from the late 80s with sloppy but ear-snagging riffs, frantic drumming and the kind of sickly, ragged vocals made famous by Chris Reifert of Autopsy. The finished product is full of aggression and it’s good, violent fun even if it’s doing nothing particularly new. Bursting Church is bursting with more of the same malignant stew, with cuts like the title track and “Exposure to a Disease” slashing and burning with ugly, serpentine riffs and rabid, unhealthy drumming excess topped off with the phlegmy, highly infectious vocal attack of Manny Sores (winner, winner, sore-encrusted chicken dinner). “Godless Shrill” has some highly entertaining riffs and more than a little bit of Spiritual Healing era Death in its twisted DNA, and “Starving in a Closet” is a remorseless mid-tempo war grinder, blending crustcore and thrash with the proto-death template for a tasty cesspool twist.

Though this dynamic duo don’t drift far from their core concept, they tweak the formula just enough to keep things interesting along the way, like dialing the speed down on “Life Alert,” foregoing straight thrash in lieu of a hideous, corrupted doom grind that feels raw and full of tetanus spiders. They even add slight keyboard effects to project extra dread as the music shambles along oozing menace and malice. My favorite moments occur during penultimate track “Final Doom” where they drop an irresistibly oily black n’ roll riff before things spiral out of control like a really bat day at the Wuhan Biological Research Facility. The riffs here should definitely be contained and studied to see what sorts of unnatural diseases they carry. With so much good olde disgusting fun to be had, is Bursting Church the perfect retro-death metal piñata? Not quite. There are some boils that could have been lanced. Instrumental “Providence” has repellant riffs to chew on and faint traces of early Voivod, but it runs too long, and a few other tunes could use a bit of trimming too, though none exceed the 5-minute mark. There’s also a slight tendency for the splatter to bleed together with songs like “Angels of Stress” and to a lesser extent “Mohel’s Kiss” feeling like slightly weaker versions of what comes earlier. All that said, no song is bad and all have fun, rancid moments teeming with crypt mites. At 41 minutes Bursting Church is pretty much the ideal length and anything more would be too much of a gross thing.

Mr. Manny Sores (Natur) handles drums and vocals. His gruesome vocal assault reminds me of Chris Reifert the most, but there’s plenty of Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) and even some Atilla Csihar (Mayhem) in his diseased throat. He does a fine job of shouting, roaring, gurgling and groaning and his drumming is also good, though very much of the non-technical thug life variety. Mr. Nicolai Orifice is the real horse glue that keeps this death machine going. His riffing is very entertaining and every track has its share of dynamic thrash/death leadwork to keep you locked in and dying along. At times his style reminds me of Larry LaLonde’s playing on Possessed‘s immortal Seven Churches opus but he has his own unique approach and it makes Bursting Church a compellingly ghastly listen with plenty of replay value.

I really, really hate the name Stress Angel, but I can’t hate what Bursting Church is selling. This is high grade old olde school death with a thrashy hair up its rotten ass, and that makes for a good time. Just be sure you’re up to date on all your inoculations and aren’t suffering from a compromised immune system, because this slimy shit will kill you dead, kinda like Brooklyn will.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: | Dying Victims
Releases Worldwide: July 2nd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. That logo is no treat either!
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