US death metal is without a doubt held in high esteem by many fans, musicians, and journalists who coincide within the chasmic depths of the extreme metal underground. The musical and aesthetic impact that old school ’90s death metal sound imbued was something of a milestone for extreme music back in the day and clearly its unpolished and candid approach still holds true today. Like many bands that remain loyal to the classic old school death metal formula, fused with new musical ideas, Excarnated Entity seem to be rectifying the hellish landscape of extremity that fuses the old school death metal rhetoric with eerie doom-laden sections. Releasing their debut 2019 demo, Stillborn in Ash, the band soon caught the attention of the extreme metal underground and were soon signed to Nuclear Winter Records. Now the band utilise their homage take on ’90s style death-doom to bring their debut full length album Mass Grave Horizon.
The record immediately gestures to this cold school sound through the utility of classic Death and Obituary plagued riffs performed with a sluggish back beat. The melodic carnality of “Abjection” renders a dramatic build of malevolence and hatred soon to be met by an anticipated death metal instrumental in “Carcinogen Shroud” that looks to borrow quite heavily from the Gothenburg style of playing. “Irradiated Shadows” implements many more of these extreme fusions, utilising black metal-produced guitar riffs and violently enhanced d-beat drumming while the vocals experiment between low growls and nasty, blackened roars. Whilst the primary focus on certain sections appears to be speed, others tend to express a formidably sludgy and climatic sense of dread, tempo changes therefore are not just applied for the sake of trying to rectify the old school death doom sound but rather to create a bleak and unforgiving effect to the music.
The melodic lines are another very distinguishable feature of the music, the guitar sections in “Corridor of Flame” consist of elongated harmonic minor melody lines that sound like the opening of the gates of hell whilst the rhythmic accompaniment adds a hostile low end that sucks you in and traps you in a pit of despair. The enigmatic blast beats then just keep on coming from the get-go in “Paralytic Reverie” the harsh, unpolished, uncompressed percussive elements deliver a sense of anger and resentment, whilst the uncompromised vocals narrate a hopeless and damning vison of humanity’s future.
The title track doesn’t hold off on its velocity as it conveys a fierce and precise level of enormity through its speed-driven verses down to the melodic breaks, you get a chilling gothic oversight of the bands more death doom influences here also such as My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost executed with a sense of malicious and vile intention. “The Butcher’s Pulpit” further imbues this more death leaning doom sound that reflects hints of bands like Trouble and Cathedral with shades of Grave and Vital Remains, providing a volatile atmosphere that casts a pale, blistering shadow across the sonic skyline. The final track “Gallery of Defeat” evokes a devastating completion of an apocalyptic hellish sonic nightmare, one that refuses to relax its grip and go full throttle to the ash filled wind of destruction.
The days of Peaceville and Earache may have reached its peak to an extent some might say, but it’s clear that this classic ’90s influence on extreme metal still holds strong and bands like Excarnated Entity prove that there is still more to be achieved from employing much of these unpolished, limitless tropes to rectify something fresh and innovative. Mass Grave Horizon, therefore, is not only a distinct nod to the influence of many original death and doom metal bands of that era, but it also attempts to utilise many model aspects of the sound in order to personify a morbidly sinister, gloomy post-apocalyptic landscape through powerful and fierce musical execution.