Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean return with their first new LP in years containing some of their most gnashing, wicked, thematic music yet

Release date: May 12, 2023 | Independent | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

It’s been 84 seven years since Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean dropped a full-fledged LP on our asses. Sustaining us with EP-sized teats every so often, we suckled at them time and time again because the quality was primo. The anonymous Springfield, Massachusetts band know their way around sludgy doom metal, creating horrifically delightful original setpieces and the odd (and I mean really odd) cover song alike. They’re remarkably consistent, but could they hold it together for another album after so long, even as their own music begs and beckons forth a violent sundering? Obsession Destruction holds the answer, and me and Hanna are here to interpret it all for you with our tummies full of bias. You could say we’ve done this before.

Hanna: Hey David! We’re back here again – looks like we’re quickly becoming the Chained duo! I’ve got a feeling of déjà vu. But before we get into that, how’s life treating you?

David: Not too bad, Hanna. It’s been a big roller coaster this month, but that’s just how it goes. How about you?

H: Oh no! I hope you’re coming out of it okay. I’ve just been super busy – in fact, I don’t think I’ve written anything for EIN since my Chained WFA. It was quite cool to hear more about that band, especially their take on album art. Speaking of which, what do you think of the cover art for their newest release, Obsession Destruction?

D: YES, loved your WFA on the band and made me even more hype for this album. Obsession Destruction’s cover is legendarily good. Painted by Mariusz Lewandowski (RIP) of course, I’m always happy to see his work on metal albums and he’s been a mainstay of the scene for quite a while now. I love dark surrealism and I think it fits Chained’s sludgy, toiling metal very well. It certainly implies a lot visually as well – what’s your take on it?

H: Lewandowski’s use of colour always was super striking, and this is no exception. Considering the band started off with these kind of austere etching-style covers, and then moved to Blasphemator’s urgent, visceral art on their last release I Tried Catching You But You Fell Through Me, I think it’s a step in a different direction, but it also makes sense. It’s still very intense, but it feels like a more polished visual compared to what came before, and I think that that 100% applies to the music as well. When I asked them about it, Chained said that Lewandowski didn’t ask for any direction on the art, only trust, and this is the product. I think that’s awesome – it’s just his untarnished response to the music. I feel it’s the perfect balance of beautiful and harrowing.

D: Most definitely, and there’s a liberating sense to it all as well, right? It’s not necessarily a peaceful sense of liberation going by the lyrics, but the cover also shows some potential conflict and violence to it as well. Again, very fitting. Awesome first impression. Let’s get right into it – what were your first experiences with Obsession Destruction like?

H: I listened to the first single, “Summer Comes To Multiply”, while I was right in the middle of writing the WFA, so I was deep in a Chained phase – listening to very little else. I honestly wasn’t super sold on it; I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t really vibing with it either. It didn’t make much sense as a single to me – 8 minutes of big, trudgy riffs, the whole song built more or less around one idea. So, I anticipated the album with some skepticism. I think I was worried that, after years spent wishing that Chained would release a full-length album, it wouldn’t deliver, or it would be too much of a good thing. We can get into that a bit more later, but first let me ask – was the first thing you heard the full album, or did you check out the singles, too?

D: I definitely heard the full album first, did not peep any singles ahead of time. That was a combination of just wanting to wait for the whole thing, but also I’ve been BUSY listening to OTHER MUSIC. The wait was worth it though, hearing the flow of Obsession Destruction starting with “The Altar” and ending with “In the Feral Grace of Night, May the Last Breath Never Come” (again with the great titles). I will say, I was with you on the skepticism because while Chained have all but mastered the EP format for smaller, crushing releases, we haven’t seen an EP from them since 2017… would it work? To echo you, would it be too much? This album is nearly 67 minutes which is automatically a hard sell to me these days, but… I have looped the album several times since release without much fatigue so they must’ve done something right, right?

H: I absolutely agree. I’ve listened to it quite a few times too, and just never get sick of it. I think it’s really well-constructed; it feels super cohesive, as if it was intended to be seen as one big piece rather than a collection of songs, and yet each track works by itself, too. I’ve really loved just soaking in it, both listening intently and while doing other stuff (it’s a great soundtrack for painting). One track on Obsession Destruction always makes my ears perk up, though: “The Gates Have Closed and They Will Never Open”. I’m super into spacious, processed drums, so it immediately had me hooked even the first time I heard it. I just love everything about this track – the main riff is killer, and the massive clean section is just to die for. To me, this is the song that most closely matches the album art – tortured, toiling, and yet somehow crystalline and serene even in its grimness. Is there a track that stood out to you?

D: Honestly, right out the gate, “The Altar” is great, awesome doom moments there, even more classical doom ones like the fluttering riffing in the intro. It’s got that midsection dump where things get even slower and more sparse before building back up more to where it was the first half. I’ll also shout out “Hole in My Head” quickly as the song itself is quick as well – love the groove on it and how it works with the weight. Obsession Destruction as a single movement is something I can definitely see. A lot of the themes run together and build off each other as well, something Chained’s always done well. Speaking of, I know you and I tend to enjoy the lyrics on their work. What’s your take on them this time?

H: Fantastic, as always. There’s a line in nearly every song that hits something in me. What I particularly like about the lyrics on Obsession Destruction is how Chained have expanded on two very key aspects of their storytelling: an overwhelming sense of religious doomy-ness, and their fascination with body horror. You have songs like “Hole in my Head”, which focusses largely on graphic descriptions of corporeal destruction, or lines like ‘These ribbon eyes, I’ll cut them out’ from “Summer Comes”, or ‘The blood crawls/From my skin’ on “Ten Thousand Years of Unending Failure”, which all conjure such vivid and grim images. But then there are also so many mentions of God and angels, the maker, sin, forgiveness not given – it feels really Old Testament biblical; this wrathful Creator to be both feared and idolised (just consider ‘When I die, god I hope to be good/I hope to be good/I hope to be God’, from “In The Feral Grace of Night”). Plus, of course, there’s the overarching theme of death, and judgement after death. Honestly, I’m totally fascinated by all three of these main elements, and that’s why my favourite lines, from “Summer Comes”, are ‘Judgement, Judgement Day/Hang yourself/By the body/The body you once loved’. How good is that? That wee verse combines all three things so beautifully, and yet so hauntingly.

Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent! In short, I’m super into the lyrics on this release in particular, and I’d love to spend an entire article dissecting them. Did you get something similar from them, or did you have a different interpretation?

D: Yeah, I think that’s all plenty fair and pretty spot-on. Agreed with each song having at least one gem that really makes you squirm. I love the hook, or the closest thing we get to a hook anyway, in “The Altar”: ‘What will balance mean/When I am alone/When God comes to collect/But I’m already gone?’ I do love the violence in “Hold in My Head” as it fits with the tempo and power behind the instrumentation.

There’s actually a ton of lyrics here on Obsession Destruction that talk about self-harm but on an extreme scale, just tearing yourself asunder or begging others to do the same, to forget you and let it all turn to ash, and it makes the cover art make more sense as you see this ghastly entity try to tear itself apart to release this glowing form underneath. It begs the questions: who’s doing the tearing? Is the outer entity trying to hold back what’s within or liberate it? This all leads me to the last two lines on “Ten Thousand Years of Unending Failure”: ‘When obsession takes over I’ll be fine/When destruction takes over I’ll decide’.

H: Funny, those two lyrics you singled out are two of my favourites, too! Especially the end of “Ten Thousand Years”. It almost feels to me like this was intended to be the title track, the pinnacle that everything before has built up to and everything after is echoing. It’s also the longest song on the album (by one second, but hey, it still counts!). I love how for the first minute and a half, there’s not even a riff, just a driving tom beat, squirming feedback, and that unnerving, glacial synth line. When it does kick in properly, it has all the more weight thanks to that. This song is beautifully balanced, too – lots of dreary trudging, creepy noise stuff, but then also some really lovely melodic moments – despite its massive length, it never feels too long. Like the album as a whole as well, I find myself enjoying this track more and more with each listen.

D: I will be honest, this is the first hour-plus album in a long time that I’ve listened to and it didn’t feel that long. It’s long, but not necessarily to a detriment. Still, it’s so weird to hear a full-length LP from Chained as we got so accustomed to more bite-sized affairs that just escaped the teasing threshold. I do miss those, but I’m sure they’ll be throwing more at us over the next years.

Overall, it’s quite commendable what they achieved here. Their sound’s intact yet expanded upon, they’re sounding clearer than ever without losing the dirty grit, and this is just some of the most solid sludgy, dark doom I’ve heard in a while. Melodic and menacing. It gets a big recommendation from me.

H: I absolutely agree. Chained have gone above and beyond in all areas with this one – the songwriting is exquisite, the album flows easily, the production sounds huge, the lyrics are evocative, and they’ve managed to stay completely true to their sound without just rehashing old ideas. It’s certainly surpassed all of my expectations, and I’m so psyched for them. I’ve always been excited to hear what they release next, but now I’m champing at the bit for more. Even with the amount I’ve been listening to these folks recently, I don’t feel at all Chained-out – quite the opposite. I’m so, so excited to see where they go from here. I hope they’re super proud of this album, because god knows I would be if it was me.

D: Right, exactly. I think that just about sums it all up for me. Great album from a great band, no slippage yet. Any final thoughts from you, Hanna?

H: Nope, I think we’ve sung the album’s praises enough! I’ve just had a look at their Bandcamp page and it looks like all their vinyl is sold out, but there’s still a sweet print of the album art to be had, plus some pretty dope skate decks for those among us cool enough to know what to do with one of those (I wish I could skate, because they do look very sick). That’s it from me as well! I guess we’ll rendezvous again for their next release?

D: You know it!

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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