Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beyond Hell - The Sleeper Awakens (2010)

The 'oughts of metal might just turn out to be known as the Decade of the Elektrokutioner, if this man continues to produce such a vast number of releases of such intentionally unrefined qualities that feel like a true visit down memory lane, and Beyond Hell is really just the latest. Wayne (aka Elektrokutioner of Decrepitaph, Scum Bitch, Shrouded, Scaremaker, Encoffination and numerous others, including Eternal Suffering and Skulleton from here in The Bay State) is joined here by vocalist 'Supreme Sicko' and shredder Tony P to craft a crushing debut that dwarfs the 2009 s/t demo and the EP from earlier this year, And Evil Crept Through...

This is total old school death metal which sounds about 20 years too late, heavily influenced by Incantation, Death, Pestilence, Obituary, and other cult acts that helped birth the extremity whose teats we now suckle in fond remembrance. The addition of Tony P's shredding is an interesting twist, though I feel more often than not it seems a little displaced, as if it were thrown on just for the heck of it. Thankfully, they often keep the leads low in the mix, so they rarely if ever distract from the band's bludgeoning core. Beyond Hell certainly wears its influence on its sleeves, and they don't really attempt to hide their similarity to their idols, but after a few of the tracks rage on, they arrive at this happy medium with manages to sound mildly fresh and conjure some memorable songwriting.

"The World Burns Forever" has a few hammering guitar riffs that sound like they were quoted from various moments on the legendary Dutch death metal effort Consuming Impulse. My favorite album of the genre, so I can't really complain about that. "Approaching Doom" changes the pace for a mix of doom and some hustling lead escapes which actually function rather well as a contrast, while "The Sleeper Awakes" is an approachable death/doom track with similarities to Pestilence, Asphyx and early Death. "Spawned in the Stars" has a great melodic intro before its surge of plodding, barbaric death metal, and "Apocalyptic Dreams" fucking rocks like it was some lost Disincarnate track. I really enjoy Supreme Sicko's vocals, they have just the right amount of reverb and effective brutality to add a needed, extra dimension to the music itself.

The entirety of The Sleeper Awakens is somewhat consistent, but what puts it over the top is the inclusion of the EP And Evil Crept Through... It's a nice added value for those that weren't exposed to its limited release, and ensures that the album should find a home in any collector of Razorback records artists or old school US or Swedish death metal. It's not perfect by a long shot, mind you. The riffs are good but could be better, the leads are not always welcome, and a few of the actual songs feel rushed in composition. But the pulse of early, festering evil is alive and well within this fresh corpse, and it's honestly one of Elektrokutioner's more promising projects alongside Decrepitaph, far better than the Scaremaker debut he was recently took part of.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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