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Vol 4: Meet Me In The Tomb EP

Stay Heavy (2014)
Rating: 7.5/10

Finnish extreme metal seems to be making giant waves at the moment, and I see a bright future for death metal combo Church Of The Dead. As the title suggests, this four-track EP is the fourth instalment from this quartet who clogged up 2013 with three similar releases in the form of Vol. I: Stay Out Of My Grave, Vol. 2: Terror Tales, and Vol. 3: Rave To The Grave.

With the fourth episode, Church Of The Dead continues its fusty theme, showcasing an ability to revel in gloriously earthy death metal which at times creeps like some stinking, stalking apparition and one given the voice of Jukka Pihlajaniemi who – to his credit – mixes a black metal styled hellish rasp with various graven growls and burps.

Pihlajaniemi is aided by guitarist Kride Lahti who, alongside bassist Antti Poutanen and drummer Tommi Makkonen, is responsible for some truly suspenseful episodes in extreme metal.

The act fires away with the opening ‘Bedlam’, a real lo-fi hammering from within the coffin lid; it’s a fast-paced expression marrying a gravelly black metal haste and speedy death metal resilience, particularly with those deep, phlegm-coated growls. The crashing black riffs slow briefly and remain somewhere between a Swedish grit and South American primal rage, all before the whole foetid force quickens its pace to boast a sneering vocal range and infectious hook.

It’s really good stuff, sort of squelching as it rolls with eerie narration before we’re engulfed again by the primitive rattles of ‘The Gallows Pole’. ‘The Gallows Pole’ is delivered with a punk frenzy, and yet ‘The Reckoning (Abyss Pt. II)’ shows the melodic class of this youthful band. This time the guys offer up a mid-tempo slog of grand chugginess where everything slows to a squalid growl. While the guitar tone is firmly rooted in that memorable Swedish fuzz, there are still strong elements of innovation as Church Of The Dead attempts to incorporate a crusty hardcore trudge.

The final track of the four is ‘Masturbating On The Grave Of Everything’, which again offers up an early Entombed-style of menace, only this time the vocals are much harsher. The music remains fast-paced throughout, but this is very much a case of revisiting the old school, albeit not aping it entirely.

Vol. 4: Meet Me In The Tomb is, for the most part, an EP that is nigh on impossible to remove from the stereo, such is its dirty accessibility and sordid mix of punky pace and chunky nostalgia.

Neil Arnold

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