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Scourge Of The Formless Breed

Self-released (2014)
Rating: 7/10

2009 saw the last studio offering from Italian extreme metallers Septycal Gorge; it was Erase The Insignificant, an album that – if you ask me – pretty much paled into insignificance all too quickly. Having said that, the 2006 debut Growing Seeds Of Decay didn’t quite rock me to the core either, so with this new offering I was hoping for some major improvement.

We get nine tracks this time round, which is nothing new as the last effort offered the same, although the band has been kind enough to provide us with two minutes more of music with Scourge Of The Formless Breed. It begins with ‘Living Torment Of The Sleeping God’, which as one expects for a track under two minutes is either going to be a grisly horror soundtrack intro or a short but sweet battering ram of technicality wrapped up in blazing, blast-beat drums and wayward riffage, and it’s the latter that we get.

Although less quizzical than some acts within the complex yet brutal death metal genre, Septycal Gorge have noted the flaws of previous efforts and combine some staggering intricacy with more accessible segments and patterns which shift between jarring, yet fleshy rhythms and pacier divisions.

‘Urizen – The Burning Sun’ is even better; a grinding, flailing heap of relentless drudgery darkened by the ominous bellows of Mariano Somà. The slower, melodic passages married with wilder nuances works effectively; the band resist the trend to become mere constructors of forgettable blurriness, instead opting for brooding sections which concentrate on battering the listener rather than merely jarring to the point of inaccessibility.

In spite of its forceful nature, Septycal Gorge is actually not one of the heaviest bands you’ll hear – they prefer to let each instrument progress throughout rather than be clouded by dense instrumentation. The percussion is concise and does enough to thread its way as a backdrop to the rampant riffage and orchestration of Diego Riccobene and Marc Losano, but even as axe-masters they seem to have that ability to shifts gears but not as a bewildering plague of complexity.

With ‘Slaughter Conceived’ we have a band comfortable at altering its pace and melody but never alienating the listener by creating a framework of spiky, inaccessible layers, and so in whatever guise Septycal Gorge is able to engross. At its most brutal Septycal Gorge offers up the pacey ‘Breed Of The Rejected (Sons Of Enoch Pt.2)’ with its hyper drumming and impressive bass trundles and the seemingly octopus technique of drummer Davide Billia. Again though, the slower passages – although infrequent – flirt with intriguing fragments of speed and technical obliteration, and this continues with the assault and battery of ‘Anabasis / Paralysis’ where Somà’s vocals become an extra layer of brutality as they coat the instrumentation.

Scourge Of The Formless Breed is definitely Septycal Gorge’s best album to date; a beast of precision that thankfully lacks the repetition of earlier belches. Having said that, this is not ground-breaking brutality – far from it – but if you like to indulge in the sounds of, say, Deeds Of Flesh and the likes, then Septycal Gorge’s third instalment should appeal.

Neil Arnold

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