Everyone can hear them scream: 

Horrendous bring their otherworldly death metal to a new star system

dB Rating: 10/10

Release Date: October 27th, 2015
Label:  Dark Descent

Death metal spends a lot of time exalting the Lord Below, but lest we forget: space is just as fucked up as anything Dante could dream up, and it’s real to boot. Do you live in constant fear of a post-mortal maelstrom that may or may not exist below your very feet? Take a sec to crane your neck upward and witness the swirling pandemonium of the cosmos—your existential dread will be cured (or exacerbated) in no time!

Horrendous understand the irony of this false chaos worship—their third full-length, Anareta, is named after a planetary point on the astrological chart that acts destructively toward organic life by “being involved in illness, pathology and death.” Basically, it’s the place that Sam Neill’s eyeless demon corpse was trying to steer the Event Horizon toward, and if he would’ve successfully completed his interdimensional road trip, he undoubtedly would’ve had Anareta blasting on the stereo.

If you’ve spent time with previous efforts The Chills and Ecdysis (number 3 on our Top 40 Albums of 2014), you know the score: Horrendous play a new strain of OSDM that pays homage to genre kingpins like Death and Obituary while incorporating idiosyncratic elements from every corner of the known universe, like Morbus Chron or Execration feeding their riffs through a Chuck Schuldiner filter and catching the first rocket to Callisto. Anareta is Phase 3 of their galactic takeover—eight songs that run concave loops around the bash-and-growl trajectory of their forefathers.

Everything on this album exudes intense focus, from the angular yet inherently melodic riffs and tormented vocal performances to the cosmic horror of the subject matter and Brian Smith’s sinister cover art. If Horrendous felt the post-Ecdysis eyes on them during Anareta’s creation process, they don’t show it. Rather than overplotting their every move and churning out an indecipherable mess that reeks of showmanship, they simply got better. Chalk it up to the magic of cohabitation—instead of stretching out recording sessions like in the past, the band holed up in guitarist/bassist/vocalist Damian Herring’s home studio and dedicated all of their energy to making sure this beast’s teeth were as sharp as possible. 

As always, the main attraction here is the coupling of inventive, compelling musicianship and “hail the riff” songwriting that’s on display from bell to bell. Herring and fellow string wizard Matt Knox are in top form—whether they’re dropping harmonized grooves on “Ozymandias,” creating reverb-drenched soundscapes on “The Solipsist (Mirrors Gaze)” or trading emotive, Chuck-summoning solos on “The Nihilist,” their musical expressions are diverse and memorable. Drummer Jamie Knox powers up as well, especially on “Polaris,” which features some highly effective polyrhythmic work. Captain’s Log: Get this shit in your ears.

—Matt Solis
Review originally printed in the December 2015 issue (#134).