Back in 2016, Garden State death conjurers Sentient Horror seemingly discovered a subterranean gateway connecting a New Jersey basement to Stockholm, Sweden. Ungodly Forms was an old-school death metal debut that turned heads faster than Dismember shredder David Blomqvist can headbang to “Skin Her Alive.” One of those who took immediate notice was Dan Swanö, whose work in Edge of Sanity helped shape the Swedeath sensibilities of Sentient Horror founder Matt Moliti. Two years later, Sentient Horror have dredged four new songs and an Edge of Sanity cover from the supernatural depths on their new The Crypts Below EP. With Swanö returning to master the record, and Horrendous’ Damian Herring mixing the record at Subterranean Watchtower Studios, the Ungodly Forms dream team breeds chaos yet again.
A collaborative release between Redefining Darkness Records in America and Testimony Records in Europe, The Crypts Below features Sentient Horror at their deadliest. This ain’t a stop-gap release of left-over B-sides and half-baked oddities. From its first feral charge, the EP blasts from cover artist Juanjo Castellano’s sepulcher with all the buzzsaw brutality and Lovecraftian menace you can pack into 20 minutes. You don’t have to be able to name-drop one of Moliti’s favorite Lovecraft stories (“The Shadow Out of Time”) to enjoy the record, but it sure as hell won’t hurt. If you’re a fan of otherwordly tales and the Sunlight Studio sound, you’ll want to venture deeper into The Crypts Below.
By this point it’s probably obvious: While they’re not fuckin’ close to being a derivative worship band, Sentient Horror ain’t afraid to wear their influences loud ‘n’ proud. Last Halloween, they even performed a special all-Entombed tribute set at Ralph’s Diner in Worcester, MA. “Entombed were actually the second Stockholm band I got into; Dismember was first, I think around the mid-2000s,” shares vocalist/lead guitarist Matt Moliti.” It was really just a matter of reading, ‘Well, these are the guys who started this sound,’ so I should probably check them out. I went out and bought Left Hand Path and was immediately blown away by the title track. It is one of the most perfect death metal songs ever written. I think overall, I might like Clandestine slightly more these days, but both records are essential death metal albums to me.”
Scroll down and check out Moliti’s thoughts on each of the EP’s songs, dishing the inside dirt on hatchet murders and his range of musical influences. But first, enter The Crypts Below and press play NOW.
Sentient Horror vocalist/guitarist Matt Moliti on:
“Enter Crypts Below”: “I knew I wanted the EP to focus on fast, ripping tunes, and I knew the first track had to encompass that the most, so “Enter Crypts Below” was born. I’m really happy with how it came out. The opening is really over the top, with the guitar solo right away and drum break immediately after. The feel in the middle of the tune is also something we have not done before. Lyrically, this one is about “The Shadow Out of Time” by HP Lovecraft.”
“Bled Dry by the Night”: “The first song I wrote for the EP. I’m a huge Dismember fan, so I was inspired to write something that was in the vein of their more melodic tunes. It’s got a bit of that early Iron Maiden style harmony going on at the end of the guitar solo, and some really dissonant counterpoint in the bridge, too. I’ve had this song title floating around since Ungodly Forms and put it to use here. Another story of undead creatures.”
“Hatchet Crimes”: “Because you gotta have a D-beat tune in there. I remember this being very frustrating to nail down the really small details and transitions when I was in the writing process. For a lot of death metal, that’s the stuff that can make or break a song, but I’m very happy with the end result. The guitar solo in the middle is unabashed Michael Schenker [of Scorpions and UFO fame] worship on my part. Lyrics for this one are about an axe murderer, and are some of my favorites on the EP.”
“Hell Marked”: “Possibly the most experimental Sentient Horror song, in regards to flow and feel changes. I tried to bring out more of my Gorefest influence with this one. The bridge, especially, came out really cool, with a strange odd time signature shuffle. I had just watched the film House of the Devil and was inspired by a lot of the visuals at the end of the film when writing the lyrics for this song about demonic cults/possession.”
“Darkday” cover: “Edge of Sanity is one of my favorite bands of all time. Their early work is a huge influence on Sentient Horror, and we had been playing this song live, so it made sense to do it on the EP. We decided to base our version off of the demo, which has a cool intro not on the studio version. This is largely an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” cover, but I added some small touches, such as the Thin Lizzy style guitar harmony climb in the intro, as well as the analog keyboards in the outro that is supposed to be a nod to their later albums, like Crimson II. Dan Swanö mastered the EP and had some really nice things to say about our cover, which was a huge honor.”