American death metal heavyweights Horrendous are back in late 2015 with their 3rd full-length record, and the second one in as many years. There are a lot of great ways to describe the band’s 2014 album, “Ecdysis”; strange, unique, and crushing are all words that come to mind, and fortunately for fans of the band, “Anareta” is an appropriate follow-up. Horrendous is no ordinary death metal group. Although their influences feel old-school in nature, they don’t really sound much like any of the famed old-school death metal groups. Likewise, the band incorporates many more modern elements (particularly in their use of melody, and even the vocal approach at times), but they don’t fit alongside any real modern death metal groups. For that reason, it’s best just to focus on the music on “Anareta”, rather than to bring up only semi-accurate comparisons.
The first thing you’ll notice about this album is that the riffs can get downright weird at times. Take the opener, “The Nihilist”, for example. This song has a guitar solo in a time signature that I can’t even quite decipher (it sounds like 5/8, but it could just as easily be 4/4 and Horrendous has successfully messed with my head). Despite this, both the solo and the riff underneath do not sound forced. Instead, the band’s approach sounds very natural, much like when they implement some more melodic licks into their sound. This partly technical moment is a reoccurring theme throughout “Anareta”, but each time the band does something like this, it always sounds effortless. Of course, there is still plenty of tremolo picking to be found on this album, but it is not the primary focus.
The remaining 7 songs largely follow suit of “The Nihilist” in the sense that they’re just a little different from what you’d expect. Perhaps the sole exception is the instrumental track “Siderea”, which is by far my favourite. If you’re familiar with “When The Walls Fell” from the band’s last record, this is a similar effort. It shows Horrendous experimenting with some more traditional heavy metal sounds, and the juxtaposition of this style and the death metal sounds of the rest of the record is incredibly effective. Even though this song is nothing mindblowing or even unique when it comes to traditional heavy metal, it is more the way the band has seamlessly incorporated it into their natural sound without feeling out of place that makes it so effective.
Another highlight is the longest and most progressive song on the record, “Ozymandias”. This track takes the listener on an extensive journey filled with dissonant riffs, haunting melodies, and torturous screams. The guitar solo that appears a little over halfway through the track is pure 1980s heavy metal in nature, yet it also fits in with everything Horrendous is doing so perfectly.
Though only the first half of the record has received mention to this point in the review, side 2 is equally compelling. Perhaps not as much in terms of individual highlights, but moreso in the fact that Horrendous has really put together an album that flows so well. Whether it is the acoustic intro of the pre-release track “Sum Of All Failures” (ironically this might be the most chaotic track as a whole), the almost upbeat ending of “Acolytes”, or the atmospheric intro of the closer “The Solipsist (Mirrors Gaze)”, the band always has something interesting to offer the listener. “Anareta” is by far one of the most compelling death metal records of the year, and shows that Horrendous is among the death metal elite. This is not a band content to copy the past, nor is it one that gives into trends. Overall, if you are finding death metal a little stale or uninspired at times, one listen to “Anareta” will instantly change your mind!
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"Sum Of All Failures"
4.6/5 or 92%.
Written by Scott