On their 2013 full-length debut, Autopsychosis, Moscow’s Katalepsy brought the gore-splattered slam death metal in abundance. Down-tuned, antisocial guitars unleashed abominable chugging riffs that stomped alongside tumultuous bass lines, cataclysmic drumming and nauseating vocals. The record was a very intense and uncompromising listen, albeit nothing the slam death scene hasn’t seen before. On Gravenous Hour, however, the Russian quintet pushes their sound into the more elaborate realms while keeping a firm foot in the slam/brutal death metal scenes. Listeners will be enthralled by the sheer brutality of this record and even more so by its complexity.
As stated previously, Gravenous Hour stays true to the band’s brutal death metal roots while exploring the areas of technical death metal. The moments where the music takes a more technical turn are not overly complex to the point of overindulgence. Hyper-speed angularity and rhythmic shifts are placed carefully in a number of tracks as not to overbalance the music. Take “Blindead Sultan” for instance. The track opens with a wealth of barreling, low-end grimy riffs that are peppered with spiraling melodies and swift transitions between crushing slam and thrashing melodicism. As it progresses the guitars become more elaborate, churning out serpentine licks and prog-adjacent sweep-picked solos. Thunderous drumming and bellowing bass lines tuned to subterranean lows also make an appearance here and really shine during the track’s (and the album’s for the matter) ignorantly heavy chugging breakdowns.
This technical slam style is purveyed through much of the album’s 40-minute runtime. Songs like “To the Lords of Nihil”and “Critical Black Mass” keep the brutality coming with their unyielding metallic monstrosities. Apocalyptic chugging and bludgeoning riffs waste no time dishing out their aural punishment, while dissonant chords and angular guitar acrobatics spice everything up with some subtle chaos. Other tracks like “After Omega”, let the band’s penchant for disemboweling slam take full control. These tracks hark back to Autopsychosis‘ gruesomeness with their massive, hammering instrumentation, emphasis on murky grooves and off-kilter rhythms.
Though the album strikes a good balance between tech death and slam/brutal death metal, it would have been interesting to see more of these explorative moments fleshed out a bit more. Some of the tracks tend to play it safe and don’t offer much more than the ones that came before them, but the songs that do work are completely destructive. But that being said, Gravenous Hour is a step in the right the direction for Katalepsy. It will be interesting to see if how their technical slam hybrid sound evolves on future releases.
Release Date: May 27, 2016
Label: Unique Leader Records
Favorite Tracks: “Blindead Sultan”, To the Lords of Nihil”, “Monastery of Nothing” and “Tephra”
For Fans Of: Dying Fetus, Devourment and Abominable Putridity