After a well received demo that we described as “Fusing elements of Black Metal and Sludge into the mix to make something nightmarish and heavy” in our review, the return of Edinburgh’s Chestcrush for another lethal dose of Blackend Death Metal is intriguing to say the least. The solo project of multi-instrumentalist Evangelos Vasilakos (guitars, bass, lyrics, programming), he’s joined by vocalist Thomas Blanc (Helioss, Celestial Swarm) and drummer Krzysztof Klingbein (Vader, Hate, Deathspawn) for a debut full length album. The title is “Vdelygmia”, a Greek word originally spelled “ Βδελυγμία“, which refers to the feeling towards a person sorely corrupted and depraved or act of extreme repulsion or abomination, the choice of which is a nod to the musicians Greek heritage as well as being an apt description for the sound which the band create…
…lyrically “Vdelygmia” is devoted to coping with personal tragedies of both mental and physical health that are reflected in the bands name, but there is also an undercurrent of pure abhorrence towards the current political and theocratical situation in Greece, all shrouded in the cloak of intelligently constructed metaphor. The album starts with the 1950’s horror movie soundscape of “The Digester” which introduces it with eerie violins that build up to some bone crushing Sludge Metal riffs adorned with the screams from the hell that awaits. First single “Different Shepherd Same Sheep” was the first we heard of vocalist Blanc accompanying the riffs of Vasilakos and he fits the bill, bringing to the table a multitude of violent vocal styles from the shriller screams to the Slam crush moments, he’s got the full repertoire in his arsenal. On “Theocracyst“, Blanc sounds like Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway, mimicking to the point we had to double check that is wasn’t. Klingbein then provides blast beats by the boatload but also some intelligent fills as the band rampage through the tracks like the Grimm Reaper racing towards his next victim. While the demo was as raw as they come to which we reference the recent offering from Incarceration, the album has been refined but only enough to clean it up, not enough that it could be considered polished. For a band like Chestcrush that is absolutely vital, the key to their dungeon prison cell being the dirge of the distortion, the bowel scraping bass and the battery acid bile of the Old School Death Metal. What the band do extremely well is tempo shift from Grindcore to Blackend Death Metal before the glorious feedback of moments of Blackened Sludge; those moments are wrapped in nuance and at points are reminiscent of the recent works of Mancunian’s Leeched. Those shifts not being the flip of a switch at the electric chair room in a penitentiary but blended and crafted to be seamless with sharpened blades of steel and focus. “Let The Crawl” is the most repugnant of works, with incendiary blast beats and distortion hiding some riffs that border on DJent in places, a swamp beast crawling from the black depths to seek the ultimate revenge with ugly and depraved consequences. The claustrophobic slow death of “Skullcrush” is just as abhorrent, the almost Groove Metal lead parts disguised by the choice of tone and brutal atmospheric before “Vothrodoxia” goes full on Black Metal with a whirlwind of percussive battery and a plague bearing vocal so raw it makes your eyes water before they turn to dust. Evangelos Vasilakos is the original Dr Frankenstien and his Monster Chestcrush lives and breathes thanks to the mixing and mastering of Ben Jones (Vacuous, Meth Leppard, Greed) so listen to this if you dare, for it will destroy you with its cries of anguish and terror [7.5/10]
Different Shepherd Same Sheep
Let Them Crawl
Vaptizetai O Doulos
“Vdelygmia” by Chestcrush will be released on 14th July and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp.