“Ekpyrosis carry the idea of revivalist death metal with no obvious struggle.”
Immolate the Denied
Incarnation of Morbidity
Morticians of God
Depths of Tribulation
The post-2010 death metal world is in, hopefully, the final stage of over-saturation. As the decade pushes on, a movement of revivalist death metal is forming and gaining momentum. The movement is not based on bands intentionally writing and recording in a manner that ‘sounds’ old, which comes off with the same charm as a clothing company that puts frays and holes into a pair of jeans to make them ‘worn’ and ‘vintage’, selling them to some self-absorbed dickhead for some outrageous amount of money. The movement is fueled by bands that are returning to ferocity, attitude, musical unruliness and experience minded writing that made the early waves of death metal transcendent. Ekpyrosis carry the idea of revivalist death metal with no obvious struggle. Asphyxiating Devotion is the debut full-length offering from the Italian death metal unit; nine songs of dense, saturating, mid-tempo death metal.
An ominous choir prefaces ‘Profound Death’ with worry before descending into an abyssal barrage of old-school Incantation and Immolation worship. Pacing is mid-tempo, the composition is tightly packed together, the riffs are combination of rhythmic and phrase-based writing styles and, for seven minutes, there is no breathing room and no territory lost. There are no smoke and mirrors; no background effects, no clean guitars, no vocal effects, no gimmicks whatsoever. Songs such as ‘Obsessive Christendom’ and ‘Incarnation of Morbidity’ continue the employment of Incantation-like techniques such as atonal harmonization and offsetting chord progressions with sharply contrasting harmonics. ‘Unearthly Blindness’ and ‘Immolate the Denied’ come on strong right from the start, in the frantic, barely contained aesthetics of earlier Immolation and pound their way from start to finish, employing very linear songwriting, and sticking to a phrasal execution. While there is a lack of progressive ideas musically, Asphyxiating Devotion is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel or act as an engine of innovation, it is an album that is best looked at as a carrying of the destructive torch of old-school death metal.
The tempo on Asphyxiating Devotion never reaches outrageously fast speeds. There exists occasional blastbeats, occasional moments of uptempo assault, but not delivered with insane speed. The slower approach to this style of death metal can either be watered down with melodic intervals or sugary groove passages, or it can be packed to the breaking point with ugly, high-impact riffs. While Ekpyrosis lack a significant history, Asphyxiating Devotion readily proves that the band is not interested in falling into conventional trappings.
Production is clean, modern and flattened out to give all the instruments plenty of space to operate. While a more powerful lower end of the sound spectrum is desired, the flattened relationship between the lows and the mids helps contribute to the density of the music.
The lyrics on Asphyxiating Devotion are another treat to be taken in. Nihilism and existential-level rejection of religion run rampant.
This is yet another solid debut album and another solid record from the Italian death metal scene. Ekpyrosis manage to avoid the banal tactics running unchecked in post-2010 death metal and present an album that is an excellent display of force. Fans of Dead Congregation, Incantation and Immolation will have a lot to enjoy on this record. Fans of old-school death metal will appreciate the revivalist tendencies the band exudes.