Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Review: Antediluvian - Through The Cervix of Hawaah
From the root
There sprouts a fiery asp
Winged seraph branch
Scions of Ha-Nachash
Tendrils of smoke
Ascend from Zaphon
Sheol stirs under feet of giants
In the streets
They bind on sackcloth
On the housetops
And in the squares
Everyone wails and melts in tears.
- "Scions of Ha Nachash (Spectre of the Burning Valley)"
Through The Cervix of Hawaah is the sound of an atavistic eruption, the overthrow of God's dominion by the monstrous primeval forces spawned at its very birth. The castings-off of Creation and its aftermath, they walked the earth as the giants, monsters, and outsider gods of the Old Testament until the divine patriarch banished them from the surface of things. They've lurked on the margins as the repressed subconscious of our world, and now Antediluvian calls them storming up from the depths. This album is the sound of the Abrahamic sickness collapsing back into its own obscured origin.
And how does that sound? This album is the fruition of everything that Morbid Angel and Blasphemy were working towards: the true sound of Chaos. Antediluvian temper pure disorder with mighty craft, shaping molten streams of tremolo picking into forms that develop according to their own twisted half-logic, unconstrained by any external formulas of songwriting. This music is organismal, pulsating with lust and uncoiling like a serpent with a thousand heads. It feels completely spontaneous, as though it flowed from the earth through the fingers through the instruments, bypassing the mind, and yet each song is clearly a through-composed work of staggering sophistication. The guitarists develop micro-riffs into lengthy melodies that twist and turn unpredictably, while the drummer leads them through a maze of morphing time signatures. And yet they never break the ceaseless flow of riffing. There's always a pulse, always a drive, none of the stop-start technical death metal nonsense.
That sense of flow is just one way in which Antediluvian remain completely faithful to the formal fundamentals of war metal, even as they expand the style's horizons. Their merciless attack riffs, such as those leading into "Scions of Ha Nachash" and "Erect Relfecion," are baroque elaborations on the basic ideas of fellow Invictus bands like Diocletian and Witchcrist. Their occasional slower passages owe a lot to Morbid Angel and Bolt Thrower. The single catchiest moment on the album, and one of the heaviest, belongs to the latter category--just over a minute into "Luminous Harvest" they drop into a sinuous breakdown that Trey Azagthoth wishes he wrote. But of course, Antediluvian's drummer is every bit as important to this album as the string players. Despite her great technical ability she has rigorously restricted her range of techniques, forcing her to get creative with hammering blastbeats and cool cymbal accents. When the tempo slows, her rumbling salvos of toms and double-bass remind me of the flamboyant skin-bashing on Axis of Advance's Strike.
Despite being steeped in the spirit and sound of bestial black/death sonic warfare, Through The Cervix of Hawaah revolutionizes the subgenre and carves out new passages for extreme metal as a whole. But this blend of faithfulness and adventurousness isn't just some interesting, improbable contrast. Rather, it's essential to why this album is so fucking awesome. This band understands that true innovation isn't about changing the individual tropes comprising a musical style, but about rethinking the approach to songwriting that underlies these gestures. Antediluvian have kept war metal's vocabulary, but given it a new syntax--if you can call it that.
For how can there be a syntax to the goat-song of Dionysus, or the howling of Pan in the woods?