Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Acephalix - Interminable Night

This one's going to be a bit more straightforward than usual, since it's late and I'm tired. Last Friday I expressed my ambivalence about Vastum's Carnal Law--the album had a lot of strong moments, but it also wasn't all that convincing as death metal. Now, I want to follow that up by reviewing its counterpart, Acephalix's Interminable Night. These two bands share three members, and both play modern reinterpretations of old-school death metal.

Gotta say, Acephalix blow Vastum away. Rather than attempting to create some kind of death/doom pastiche, they focus on doing something new with the old Swedish template, and pull it off admirably. All the signature elements are here: driving d-beats, punkish riffing, gothic tremolo passages, "chainsaw" guitar sound, wild and flashy soloing, etc. But none of these sound quite the way you expect.

Some of this originality can be ascribed to Acephalix's background as a crust punk band: the d-beat riffs are much closer to hardcore than those of Entombed or Dismember, but they're also uncommonly long and thoughtful, and all the heavier for it. These aren't canned "death metal riffs" or "crust riffs," they're Acephalix riffs. They've imbued punk riffs with the intricacy of death metal, and it sounds sick.

But there are other influences at play. It's clear these guys really dig Grave, who happen to be my all-time favorite death metal band. With their crushing grooves and high-speed bashing, Grave were on a very different trip from the Stockholm crew. You can really hear this sound in the fourth track, "Rebirth Into Perversion," but a Grave-esque focus on brute force pervades the album. Rather than just rehashing Stockholm shit like most retro Swedeath bands, Acephalix are able to establish a character of their own by drawing on everything that was coming out of Sweden in the early 90s.

Finally, this album has a "hit single" in the form of the first track, "Christhole." It even has a sort of shout-along chorus, which hits at around 1:37. It's built on these greasy midtempo riffs that I'm pretty sure are not part of the old-school canon, and more power to Acephalix for throwing out the rulebook to include them. The vocalist also sounds great here. I know he's probably saying "Christhole," which is pretty stupid, but you can also convince yourself he's saying cool things like "nazgul!" or "grindwhore!"

If Interminable Night has one weakness, it's that it's frontloaded. It might've been better as a long E.P. If this album has another weakness, it's that it came out on Southern Lord. But I like it anyway. Oops.

Buy this album on Amazon

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