As the name implies, “4 Doors To Death” is a 4-way death metal split album featuring a number of bands from Unspeakable Axe Records. This release hearkens back to a time where split albums where more than just 2 bands smashing together a couple of demos, and instead offers a full-length release with a coherent sound, yet distinct styles. “4 Doors To Death” is aided by the fact that each band has their own unique nuances in the production, so you can tell when moving from one door to the next, yet it doesn’t feel like a jarring change.
The first door on this album belongs to Cemetery Filth. Their 3 tracks serve as an excellent example of the band’s sound: rotten, murky, downtuned death metal goodness. A lot of their riffs also sound reminiscent of early Morbid Angel, as they’ve got a slightly sideways approach to songwriting. The band isn’t afraid to slow things down to create ominous sounding riffs that provide the majority of melody on the record (as they do in the opener “Consumption of Volition”, as well as the brooding solo that kicks off “Dagonian Dialect… The Obelisk Unearthed”). This contrast with the faster, more muddled sound gives off a feeling of controlled chaos. Cemetery Filth provide some dastardly riffing, but do so with incredible precision. It is difficult to imagine a better start to this split than Cemetery Filth’s offering.
Ectovoid is the only of the 4 bands on this release that I admittedly was not familiar with prior to this album. With only two tracks, the band has less of a chance to make their mark, and unfortunately they don’t quite pull it off. Relative to Cemetery Filth’s wild, but tight approach, Ectovoid leans more towards being noisy. Good riffs exist, but are shrouded by loud drums (particularly the cymbals), and fuzzy guitars. The songwriting feels less deliberate, and tends to blur together. This is particularly evident when the band’s drummer makes use of blastbeats, where it is almost impossible to pick out what is going on. The unfortunate part about this door is that when you really focus and try to block out the drums, there’s a lot to like here. With better production, Ectovoid would definitely be up to par with the other 3 bands on this release. This is particularly evident in the second half of “Possessed By Ancient Dread” were the band locks into a chugging riff that is sure to cause some neck pain.
The only Canadian band on this split is Sabbatory, who put forth an amazing album last year. Fans of that album will be happy to know that the band’s production on “4 Doors To Death” is quite similar, as it still features that awesome crackly snare that made their debut stand out. They also still have a huge punk feel that is driven by the drumming. The remainder of the music is nothing foreign to death metal: tremolo-picked riffs, growling vocals, and an overall monolithic wall of sound. Nevertheless, the band manages to come up with some unique riffs that distinctly sound like Sabbatory. Even as someone who is by no means a connoisseur of death metal, this is a band always that sticks out in a good way within 30 seconds of hearing them.
The final door to enter belongs to Trenchrot. Relative to their 3 peers on this release, Trenchrot is the band most responsible for bringing the doom. While Cemetery Filth and Ectovoid had a few slow sections, it is Trenchrot that makes them the most crushing. From the opening seconds of their part of the split, Trenchrot hurls you into a colossal dissonant world. “Hell Pilot’s Call” eventually transforms into a song with a cold, marching beat to it. Of the 4 bands on this release, Trenchrot is by far the most unique, largely because their sound is a lot cleaner (by death metal standards) and more mechanical sounding than the other bands’. Despite their tendency towards doomy sections, Trenchrot proves they can play just as fast as everyone else with the closing track, a cover of Death’s “Evil Dead”. Similarly, the majority of “Powerful Kandarian Steel” is speedier than the first track the band presented.
“4 Doors To Death” is a really fun listen because it feels like it exists for a purpose. In an age where bands only collaborate to reach a slightly bigger audience, this release feels like a celebration of modern death metal (not to mention a great label), as it takes bands with slightly different twists on the subgenre, and puts them onto one release. It certainly has its ups and downs, but all 4 doors have something to offer, and for that reason, it is an essential purchase for death metal maniacs!
"Consumption of Volition"
"Ascention To My Holy Tomb"
"Hell Pilot's Call"
4.25/5 or 85%.
Written by Scott