I have been so excited for Resin Tomb’s debut album since 2020, when I first had the privilege of hearing and reviewing their self-titled EP. Resin Tomb is visceral, aggressive, and like nothing I’d ever heard before, so naturally, I wanted more. When the band announced their first full-length album, Cerebral Purgatory, would be released this January, I knew I had to get onto that. They teased me a little in 2022 with a 2-track release, Unconsecrated // Ascendancy, which was just as grim and abrasive as I had hoped, so by the start of this year, I was so ready for Cerebral Purgatory.
I won’t lie, I was a little worried that Resin Tomb would change directions musically, when all I wanted was more stuff like what was on the EP. At the same time, I was worried that if the style didn’t change, I would be underwhelmed considering it now wasn’t a new sound to me anymore, having listened to the EP extensively over the last three years. Yeah, I know, seemingly impossible expectations! However, on both accounts, I needn’t have worried. Right from the album’s opening track, “Dysphoria”, it’s clear that Resin Tomb are just as vicious and blistering as ever: while controlled, the song feels feral, bristling with furious attitude. The intro alone is filled with all the Resin Tomb-isms I loved so much on their EP – it’s straight in with a burst of harsh vocals, tight drumming, and a brutal, angular riff. Making space for the fury-driven vocals, the verse strips back a little to simpler drums and trem picking, but with no less intensity. The lyrics amplify the sense of complete succumbing to darkness: ‘There is no warmth/No emotion/Only hatred/Manic dysphoria‘.
“Dysphoria” is the perfect album opener, a teaser for what’s to come. At just over two and a half minutes long, it’s the shortest track on Cerebral Purgatory, yet contains everything one could possibly want. It’s straight to the point, no faff, no bells and whistles, just pure unbridled attitude. Resin Tomb take a slightly more measured approach with the middle three tracks on the album, “Scalded”, “Cerebral Purgatory”, and “Human Confetti”, which all come in at exactly 4:20 in length (coincidence? I think not). Of this trio, “Human Confetti” is a definite favourite, with its almost mantric repetition of themes and pure, chilling melodies – but “Scalded” deserves a special mention.
“Scalded” is quite possibly one of the most surprising songs on Cerebral Purgatory for me, and one that slipped through the cracks a little bit when I was initially getting familiar with the album. It’s exciting to me mainly because it encompasses so many subgenres of metal, starting out in a more traditional slam/tech death fashion, before breaking down and building back up with almost glacial fragility into one of the most hauntingly beautiful sections on the record. “Scalded” dabbles in sludge, but plays mainly at blurring the lines between death metal, thrash, and black metal. It certainly contains more of the harrowed blackened moments, all of which are torturously beautiful in their writhing agony. Despite having very little repetition, “Scalded” feels solid, balanced, and cohesive. What an exquisite piece of writing.
Perhaps my favourite track on Cerebral Purgatory is “Purge Fluid”; another brisk jaunt at just over three minutes in length, it’s one of the catchiest and most structured songs on the album, but certainly not predictable. Something about the opening motif in particular gets me going – it brings up an almost hopeful sense of fleeing, escaping into the night after a long imprisonment. This feeling of (relative) positivity is soon dampened by the heavy-hitting drums, thick chords, and coarse vocals, and finally crushed altogether. The song feels like it’s secreting tar, pulling me back, wrapping dark tentacles around me to force me back into my cell; it delights in slamming and locking the door, and throwing away the key. Everything in the second half of “Purge Fluid” is so heavy and so far removed from its optimistic beginning – a trap. But it’s a trap I’ll gladly fall into.
When I mentioned to my partner (who is also a fan of the debut EP) that Resin Tomb were releasing a full-length album, all he had to say was ‘Jesus, that’ll be full-on’. It is – Cerebral Purgatory never lets up, never offers a moment for rest or reflection, just pummels on and on, and that’s exactly what it needs to do. It is intense, it is bitter, it’s definitely abrasive, but it’s not too much. On the verge of overwhelming the entire time, it is still somehow a shock when the album ends, as if there was more to be said. The silence after the final, desperate fading hit of “Putrescence” is almost more intense than all the dissonance and grit that came before it. I love that sort of thing – I love being held at the brink, dangled over the edge. The focus and precision throughout Cerebral Purgatory is incredible. It feels extremely deliberate, and therefore never becomes too much.
Resin Tomb’s 2020 EP is, quite simply, one of my favourite releases ever. It blew me away when I first heard it and it blows me away every subsequent time I listen to it, too. With Cerebral Purgatory, Resin Tomb have whetted their sound further – become more precise, tighter, a little less wild, but still ferocious. Perhaps the album doesn’t have quite as much of the raw chaotic power as the EP; perhaps it’s just taken on a slightly different form. In any case, Cerebral Purgatory has cemented Resin Tomb’s sound, along with a place in my heart. The one thing I always loved about this band is their general attitude – death metal with the gritty production of sludge, the emotional intensity of black metal, and the feverish chaos of grind. To me, for this sort of style, that’s perfection.