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Appalling Ascension

Osmose Productions (2017)
Rating: 9/10

There are times in a person’s life when they just have a wanton need to open the very gates of Hell just to see what lurks below. This urge only comes once in a blue moon and seemingly can no longer be obtained via simply playing a Mötley Crüe album backwards. And so in this modern age we have to rely on some truly fiendish bands to deliver such an atmosphere.

One band which springs to mind is London, England-based Grave Miasma; a truly creative yet destructive bunch of eerie bastards that over the course of a few years have constructed some truly evil sounding bibles of filth. And now we can throw The Ominous Circle into the mix; a terrifying bunch of musicians whose penchant for the creepy and downright sinister comes to the fore on this rather frightening and bewildering opus through Osmose Productions.

To call this Portuguese bunch merely death metal would be unfair. In fact, it would be disgraceful, because like only a handful of other bands (Grave Miasma, Void Meditation Cult, Teitanblood) they’ve crafted a strange, unique and almost Lovecraftian manifestation of cold, yet clammy weirdness and billowing, bellowing absurdity.

Riddled with doomy layers, coated with chilly ambience and puked up with shards of cavernous evil, The Ominous Circle churns out seemingly endless filth. Squalid, sordid, primeval, and unearthly are just a few words that spring to mind for such a repulsive brew of gloom-crusted and evil-coated black wisdom.

Often bass-heavy, always distorted, stifled with the melancholy and dripping in infernal dampness, one can only behold such filthy wonders as ‘From Endless Chasms’ with its tugging tendrils of fogginess, occasionally punctuated by twisted, wiry leads of sombreness.

But moroseness is king here; the sound oozes like some lethal liquid from some previously untouched tomb where the fungal air is so putrid that just a sniff brings instant death. In fact, spin something like ‘Poison Fumes’ or opener ‘Heart Girt With A Serpent’ and you’ll find yourself trampled by an army of demons eager to escape their pungent pit and clamber into the skin-burning light.

So overbearingly heavy is this fetid grilling, that one wonders just what studio could have been constructed to maintain such instrumental torture. Everything about this volume stinks of esoterica; whether in the blood-gurgled vocal barks, to the hissing, aching percussive squelches. The guitars grate, drain, bludgeon and wail, as do the choirs of horror assembled in the magnetic and otherworldy moans of ‘Consecrating His Mark’.

Appalling Ascension only half lives up to its name. “Ascension” is not the right word for a record that ultimately drags us down into its foul lair and crushes our bones in a vice-like, smog-laden grip.

The Ominous Circle are a ladder into the depths of Hades, a descent in a hideous vacuum of ritualistic chants, foreboding muddiness and raping solos that spike the flesh, but in turn then attempt to escape the noxious, nauseous cloud of ill-will. Nothing lives here. There is only death. The circle is impenetrable.

Neil Arnold

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