Strigoi – Viscera Review

As much of a doom metal cat as I am, I’ll woefully admit when I miss the boat on a band. Vallenfyre, the death/doom side-project that Paradise Lost axeman Gregor Mackintosh created to process the loss of his father, released three albums of 90s throwback Asphyxiation before Mackintosh put the band to rest in 2018, stating that he felt the band had run its course thematically. However, he still wanted to continue in that murky, grotesque vein, so with the help of live ‘Fyre bassist Chris Casket, Mackintosh unearthed Strigoi, a grindier, filthier proposition. While I missed out on Vallenfyre’s discography throughout their painfully short existence, I’m not missing out on Strigoi’s second journey, Viscera.

And frankly, neither should you, because this shit is nasty in all the right ways. Just as opener “United in Viscera” kicks off, Mackintosh and fellow guitarist Ben Ash (ex-Carcass) envelop you in chewy, viscous riffs and hopeless, dawnless melodies while Guido Zima bashes away at the drums like they owed him comically large amounts of money, marching and lurching like an undead fiend fresh from the soil. Later on, “Hollow” heaves with methodical purpose and graceless strides not felt since the apparent dormancy of Vainaja. Slow and ugly are the words of the day here, and combined with Mackintosh’s bellowing growls, you’ll receive heaps of disgusting riffs and downtrodden vibes on Viscera.

Slow isn’t the only speed they operate in, however. There are sub-three minute blasts of grindcore fuckery present as well, yet they don’t feel even a little out of place. “Napalm Frost” could give classic Napalm Death a run for their money, while “Redeemer” rips and blasts into (and through) you with a razor-sharp efficiency and lack of forgiveness. I wasn’t expecting Strigoi to adopt the get-in-and-get-out approach, but I’m pleased as hell that they did! There’s nothing wrong with toying with the flow a little bit, as it largely makes forty-six minutes fly by much quicker.

That doesn’t mean that flight is entirely graceful, though. “King of All Terror,” one of the speedier tracks on here, feels like it could go on for another minute or two, because it feels unresolved. In stark comparison, closer “Iron Lung” drags on for a couple minutes too long, and contains some of the album’s weakest moments. With all that said, though, Viscera scratches a particular itch for death/doom that makes the listener feel like they’re trying to escape an agonizingly slow, yet uncompromisingly brutal, monster that also possesses moments of frightening speed, and it scratches it well.

Of course, leave it to one of the godfathers of modern doom metal to puncture you silly with a bludgeoningly heavy death/doom work of grotesque beauty, and Viscera sees Strigoi staking their claim. Just as ‘Lost bandmate Nick Holmes has a successful side-gig with Bloodbath, so too does Mackintosh with his vampiric, bloodthirsty baby. If Vallenfyre was a project rooted in loss, Strigoi is the heft of eternal damnation made aural. Do not make the mistake of passing this by in the night.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 30th, 2022

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