Written By: Noctus
Wondering why the band is called Swallowed? So was I; at least, until I put Lunarterial on for a spin. It was easy enough to work out after their musical palette aggressively assaulted my eardrums; their music swallows you whole and holds nothing back. This particular flavour of death/doom takes Disembowelment‘s torch and runs with it proudly, but with a greater emphasis on intensity as opposed to atmosphere. Transcendence into the Peripheral‘s general moodiness is toned down in favor of an auditory assault of massive, foreboding doom movements constantly being switched out for low-end death metal riffs and solos buried deep in the mix.
Lunarterial pays far less attention to riffs, tonal or otherwise; it’s a maelstrom of disorientating intensity and soundscapes designed to unnerve and pulverize the senses. The playing comes across as melodically indistinct, not unlike Portal‘s early albums. The construction around instrumental interplay is very tight despite seeming so naturally free-flowing; bulldozing through confounding and complex changes in structure, a technique this album builds its entire foundations from. It entirely forgoes the idea of building tension and opts for constant yet oddly unpredictable aural assault, which serves the album beautifully; in an exceedingly filthy way.
The first half focuses more on the swirling death metal and shifts in song construction, tracks like “Reverence Through Darkness” figuratively tearing you a new one with constant blastbeats and monolithic guitarwork – to great effect. The second half is far more stoic in nature and takes one aesthetic and runs with it. The doom metal dominates in a trippy and bewildering way, “Black Phlegm” reminding strongly of Dolorian and Evoken, but more organic as opposed to an ethereal, trippy soundscape. “Liberations” takes it far deeper into funeral doom territory, still sounding furious and massive. Despite this track alone taking up nearly half the album’s runtime, the near-27 minute monster doesn’t outstay its welcome.
The vocals deserve noting, perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the record – utterly desperate and malevolent rasps and chants that never stick to one aesthetic too closely, shifting with the dynamic of the music. The drums carry this shifting dynamic with admirable gusto and carry the rest of the instrumentation convincingly, the guitars offering the right amount of texture. A slightly more melodic touch might have served this album’s memorability well, but the lack thereof doesn’t derail the experience.
The production is about as brash and incomprehensible as the music, and by that, I mean it works well. Crash symbals dominate the mix to serve the treble-focused intensity with enough low-end for the huge rhythm guitars and kick drums to have impact. No emphasis on crystal clarity has been utilized, which gives the album a much more alluring sound.
An album as addicting as it is domineering and confident, Swallowed is less a band that feels the need to innovate and instead proves that they know what they’re bloody well doing. The tightly constructed yet chaotic music mixed with a very organic and primal feel is a sensation few bands can achieve. Fans of Mitochondrion, Dolorian and Disembowlment have a new band to watch with equal amounts of anticipation and terror.