New Zealand’s Vassafor have been playing their brand of oppressive extreme metal for 2 decades now, and this latest split Call of the Maelstrom with vocalist Phil Kusab’s other group Temple Nightside delivers yet another slab of devastatingly caustic metal.
Vassafor’s style is not one you can pin down easily, with black, death and doom metal all combined and pushed to their extremities to create the abyssal maelstrom of sound which made their début album, 2012’s Obsidian Codex one of the best extreme metal releases of the decade so far. And with the same approach carried over to this new release, such a maelstrom of sound makes the album’s title very appropriate.
A short intro consisting of slow mournful guitar opens their side, before Phoenix of the Maelstrom kicks off the first track property with a filthy blackened death metal masterpiece. The caustic rumbling bass is deep and unrelentingly oppressive under a storm of thunderous riffs and battering drums, making an utterly bleak sound. Phil’s high pitched croaks are great, indecipherable and completely monstrous throughout the track. It’s eight minutes long and a riff behemoth, easing effortlessly between razor sharp tremolo barbarisms, sections of furious melody, and thunderous slower meaty riffs, with brilliant pacing, and all with a guitar tone so heavy it would make Asphyx wince. The production is pure filth and churns the brilliant musicianship presented here into a filthy oppressive wall of sound.
Crowned in Irradiated Ashes is one of the most “metal” song titles out there, and the music matches this, a blackened death metal assault with razor sharp riffage, oppressive distorted bass and absurd blastbeats – straight to the point and devastating. Side A closer Tormentum Aeturnum thunders along with blackened death precision ala Panzer Division Marduk, that is if the Swedes cranked up the filth factor all the way to 11. Phil snarls away throughout the track in a brilliant vicious manner, while that solo at the end doesn’t just rip, it tears a fucking rift right through the heart of that dirty thrashy riffage. Absolutely insane.
Temple Nightside are a new discovery for me, but Vassafor’s Phil Kusabs provides bass for the Australian group. Their style is more death-doom oriented, their approach more bleak and unsettling than Vassafor’s all out devastation. Their side is made is up of two tracks, the sound throughout charging back and forth between slow sludgy riffage to speedy bursts of brutality all over a murky cloud of deep bass, with the former being headbang inducingly filth and the latter making you grit your teeth at the barbaric sound. Second track in particular, The Howling Void, As Wolves…. barrels forth with slow ugly riffage before upping the tempo to create a vortex of disgusting riffage. Unsettling, ugly, brilliant.
Vassafor’s side presents some of the best extreme metal you’re bound to hear all year, it’s oppressive, filthy and incredibly well composed. Temple Inside are great as well, drowning you in a dense sea of bass and an oppressive atmosphere. Don’t let this one pass you by, it’s head fucking extreme brilliance.