Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Spiritual Entrails

Band: Uškumgallu
Release: 'Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood' (2016)

The knowingly obscure Vrasubatlat collective has been polluting the air with their particular strain of malady since 2015. While young, its shared consciousness has borne twisted entities whose output, though possessing a unique miasma, sits well next to some of the foremost (and mostly Icelandic) black metal releases of recent times.

'Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood' not only acts as a milestone for Vrasubatlat (the tenth release via its collaborators) but presents the prolific Uškumgallu as a fully-realised, commanding black metal outfit.

Uškumgallu's self-titled demo and its follow up endeavour, 'Mortifying the Flesh' (both released 2015), were brilliantly rattly, primitive artifacts that set Uškumgallu aside as a propitious act that wasn't fearful of wearing its heritage on its sleeve.

While the more straightforward (albeit noteworthy) death metal of Triumvir Foul easily caught the attention of fairly pedestrian listeners who may have otherwise ignored the too-underground, twisted disseminations of the Vrasubatlat coven, 'Rotten Limbs...' is one of the best representations (alongside Dagger Lust's recent output) of the label's depraved, melancholic and violent ethos to date.

Tension and claustrophobia dominate this release. From its ominous intro, right through to its prevalent speed and aptly repetitive riff structures, the record is a veritable lesson in dynamics and the masterful use of groove-peppered tempo variation. Despite the unrestrained, smothering attack of much of 'Rotten Limbs...', the album is imbued with an excellent sense of space that grants all instrumentation leave to wander and breathe, allowing multiple possessed voices to assail the listener.

Much of this full-length's potency lies in its adherence to the immediacy and rough nature of Uškumgallu's demo works. Truly venomous and disturbed vocalisations underpin the uncomfortably misshapen (even by black metal standards) aural creation being blared, never for a moment allowing even the slightest hint of production wizardry or sterilisation, a common curse on full-length efforts, to take hold.

Though some black metal has suffered a crisis of identity of late, battling social justice crusades, genre dilution and release saturation, Uškumgallu and other Vrasubatlat adepts continue to revel in the obscure, and the skewed caverns of tortured minds, while aspiring, first and foremost, to communicate via what are some of the leading black, death and noise onslaughts in existence.

Rating: 80%

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