Vrenth – Succumb to Chaos Review

For a long time, I didn’t fully understand old-school death metal. Sure, I’d love a song here and there, but those were usually the songs that stood out from the rest of their album-mates. They’d either be the “groovy” track of the bunch, or the most melodic, or the one that creatively incorporated some other style into its sound. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that death metal is more about the visceral reaction that your body and mind have to a barbaric aural bludgeoning than it is about memorability, and I’ve thus come to enjoy entire albums full of quality metal of the dead variety. But every once in a while, a death metal band comes along with the apparent intent of providing that same visceral journey while simultaneously providing riff after memorable riff, a host of unforgettable solos, and enough stylistic changeups to keep the listener on their toes. California’s Vrenth is just such a band.

In 2020, Vrenth released their first full-length, Baptism Death, a short-and-sweet ritual bludgeoning of grimy death metal, and follow-up Succumb to Chaos continues right where that one left off. Reminiscent of Witch Vomit, Vrenth sounds like they compose their death metal by starting with a base of violent thrash, a base that they then inject with steroids and meth, feed through a meat grinder, then infuse with tortured souls via the uttering of occult Incantations. Opening track “Omnipresence (Mors Certa/Hora Incerta)” kicks things off perfectly with some burly riffing, frantic drumming, and the sickening grunts of vocalist Mike Nelson. But just when you think you can predict where the song is going, the band transitions to a bouncing thrash riff for a while, and then dials the groove up even further into a rhythm that would feel at home on a crossover record. A touch of atmosphere rears its head before a fantastic solo passage ushers us into the track’s more aggressive death metal second half. Right off the bat, Vrenth are showing us that they’re more than a one-trick pony.

That diversity remains a hallmark throughout the entirety of Succumb to Chaos’ 40-minute runtime. A lot of death metal—even the good stuff—ends up sounding remarkably homogenous, but Vrenth’s approach to the genre keeps my ears perking up when spinning the record in the background and holds my interest during focused listens. A major part of this success is due to the amazing soloing of Christian LaRocca (Ruin) and Bob Babcock (Ruin, ex-Exhumed). They shred their way through a bunch of Slayer/Morbid Angel-style solos, but they also balance this with a ton of emotional, melodic fare a la Death. Each and every track goes through at least a couple of rhythm changes, further enhancing the record’s dynamics and replayability.

I don’t enjoy the production on Succumb to Chaos quite as much as I enjoyed that of its predecessor, but this is really a matter of preference. Where Baptism Death was more modern and full sounding, this one is a bit murkier and grimy, but I can’t say it doesn’t suit the music. As a whole, Succumb to Chaos is a viscerally pleasing journey from front to back. The vocals contain just the right amount of rhonchi, and the music just plain pummels. Highlights to check out would be “Omnipresence,” “Curse of the Living and the Dead,” “Succumb to Chaos,” and “The End as a Shadow.”

If you hunger for homicidal caveman riffs, molten, razor-sharp leads, thunderous rhythms, and vomitous vocals, Vrenth has served you up a putrid platter of purulent pleasure. Over the course of two records, these guys have developed a really interesting take on old-school death metal, and most fans of the genre will want to have a listen. Resistance is futile; Succumb to Chaos.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Rotted Life Records
Websites: vrenth.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/vrenthband
Releases Worldwide: September 5th, 2022

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