Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based tech metal outfit Okazaki Fragments‘ short-lived existence was not in vain. The band unleashed a chaotic maelstrom of gruesome instrumentation on their 2015 debut and final LP, Abandoned, which made a bit of an impression among the underground extreme music community. Okazaki Fragments may have been put to rest, but for guitarist Rory Babkirk, the band was only the beginning. Babkirk picks up where Okazaki Fragments left off with his new, diabolical project, Spurn. Babkirk’s penchant for chaotic hardcore assaults, unorthodox construction, suffocating dissonance and just plain aural ugliness can be heard fighting like feral animals with each other on Spurn‘s debut LP, Comfort in Nothing.
The 28-minute abysmal blitzkrieg immediately aims for the throat with its opening number, “Spoiled Failures”. Down-tuned guitars conjure angular, malformed grooves that bellow like unfathomable beasts and morph into blood-curdling, disgustingly vile shapes. When the track picks up it becomes a furious and disorderly rampage of shrieking and churning riffs that sound like the most chaotic moments of Gaza, Botch and Psyopus rewritten by someone clinically insane. Equally maddening drum work, subterranean bass lines and venomous vocals, which spew disdainful and often socially-conscious lyrics, cap this cacophonous mess off.
The suffocating and relentless title track is comprised of aberrated, atonal yet fluid riffs that squirm like the tentacles of a creature from Lovecraftian lore, which piggyback upon hellacious drumming that never ceases to punish. Despite the dissonance and grotesque nature of the riffs, the guitars still manage something reminiscent of melody. Perhaps a parody of melody, but melody nonetheless. This bombastic tune is followed by the lurching and spiteful “News Feed”. The track presents an apocalyptic battle between towering, sludgy riffs that stomp with down-tuned hate and piercing harmonics, and frenetic sliding and wailing torture. It’s constantly shifting tempos and overbearing sonic weight make it one of the more uncomfortable pieces on the record.
Other highlight cuts include the caustic anti-cop anthem “Quota to Meet”. The 90-second rager features a writhing mass of serpentine riffs that sound like an early Ulcerate composition condensed into a short burst of aural hell. “Reproduction” shifts back and forth feverishly between stop-and-start, skin-crawling riffs and explosions of disjunctive noise. From start to finish, Comfort in Nothing is a consistently vile, unnerving and head-spinning release that will definitely weed out the weak-willed once the first track begins.
The only real negative aspect about the record is that the vocals are drastically low in the mix and certain points when an extra boost of throat-searing vitriol would have been appreciated. But other than that small hiccup, Comfort in Nothing is delightfully gross and unforgivably heavy. Spurn is the stuff of nightmares, nightmares that listeners will be happy to experience.
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Favorite Tracks: “Spoiled Failures”, “Comfort in Nothing”, “Quota to Meet” and “Refugees”
For Fans Of: Gaza, Reproacher, The Network and Ed Gein