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Cthulu Wgah’nagl Fntagn EP

Obliteration (2012)
Rating: 7/10

The oddly named Castleumbra hail from Mexico, and this Lovecraftian-inspired five-track EP is the band’s debut release.

Castleumbra are a two-piece, with Antimo Buonnano being responsible for the vocals, bass and guitars, while Alejandro Franco bashes the crap out of the drums. These guys are somewhat metal journeymen, having appeared previously in bands such as Impiety, Disgorge and Warfield, as well as being current members of thrash combo Profanator.

Now, on the first listen I’m immediately struck by the influences here, which are plain for all to hear. Put simply, Castleumbra are an unhealthy watery mix of Carcass (especially in the vocals), Entombed, Repulsion, Bolt Thrower and Autopsy, which of course means that Cthulu Wgah’nagl Fntagn must surely be a rather standard imitation – but you’d be wrong.

This is a ghoulish little record that emits a mouldy belch throughout; the indistinguishable vocals growls are engulfed by putrid waves of buzz-saw guitars, which come soaked in bile and algae.

This opus reeks of that early Carcass sound, especially as Antimo Buonnano gurgles flesh and bone on the murky strains of the six-minute ‘Naamtaar Kingu’, a track which is puked out like some ancient cabalistic incantation in order to evoke the ancient ones.

How can one not be dragged into the mulch with lyrics such as “Akrabu suxur mash, Kakkabu alap shame, Beneath the eclipse, Naarmaataru ishniggarab, Beneath the oceans and void” or the more accessible vomits of “Thee I invoke, Ninnghizhidda, Horned serpent of the deep, Ninnghizhidda, OPEN!” Peculiar stuff indeed, and all heaved out to the sound of gore-drenched sludge-ridden buzz guitars and damp, clanking drums.

I really can’t wait to hear a full-length opus from this Mexican double act, especially if the weird whispers of the two-minute title track are anything to go by. Buonnano and Franco are clearly disciples of the H.P. Lovecraft scriptures, and they do their damn finest to get those eerie oddities and distant entities across in their horrible sound.

Project closer ‘Realm Of Utumno’ is the prime example of the band’s Swedish influence, and that infected needle which sews together that chainsaw hostility with more bile-soaked sludge. Equally at home in the realm of pace or swampy mid-tempo, Castleumbra – for all their intensity – are obviously an H.P. short of a Lovecraft, but boy do I love those weird lyrics and sombre twists and turns. It’s the sort of release that’ll leave a slimy film on the carpet for weeks afterwards. Whether Mr. Lovecraft would be proud of such disturbing weight I don’t know, but fans of Carcass and the like should take an interest in this.

Neil Arnold

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