Review: “Dimensions Unfurled” by Celestial Scourge

Who are Celestial Scourge? They’re a Brutal Technical Death Metal band from Norway, founded by bassist Stian Gundersen, a man known for his work in Blood Red Throne, Glimt, The Dark Nebula and You Suffer during the years of the great plague, someone who will also feature on the upcoming Demonstealer record. When we say founded, lets be clear, Gundersen is credited with bringing the group together and writing all the music, with all the lyrics being inked in poison pen by vocalist Eirik Waadeland. The pair were joined for the recording of the record by drummer Kristoffer Lunden and guitarist Sanjay Kumar, the latter of whom exited stage left before the EP release with duo Hans Jakob Bjørheim and Sindre Wathne Johnsen now credited as being the bands riff slingers. Still with us? Great!

There is a lot to be said for promises and in this surprisingly rare example, the band actually nail the self description of their debut offering very well. It is indeed an alarmingly well balanced piece that sits on the razors edge between technicality and brutality which creates a cosmic white knuckle hell ride as it decimates your ear drums. As they put it, you can expect electrically charged cosmic themed lyrics combined with crushing riffage and savage breakdowns that take you on a journey through the many cruelties that dwell within the vast void of space. But that self description we’ve modified for entertainment purposes doesn’t actually begin to do the record justice. Why? Simply because there is a hell of a lot more to it than that. Opening cut “The Vast Profound” is an absolute necks snapping beast of a track that finds the band putting their collective heads down and charging headlong into oncoming traffic. The bass sound is heavy in the mix, so everything has this otherworldly tinge to it while the leads mesmerize in hypnotic fashion. Or at least they would if you hadn’t s*** your pants at the sound of Waadeland’s throat splitting vocal. “Moon Dweller” then kicks in with enough jackhammer footwork and blast beats to form a blitzkrieg of artillery shelling. It’s restless, relentless and metronomic that it’s like Kristoffer Lunden is Gene Hoglan in a body suit after ten cans of Monster energy drink, fifteen pro-plus and a shot of Jägermeister. Even the classic downtempo ending drum wise makes other drummers look lazy by comparison. The sweeping riffage and face melting solo are equally as impressive as these musicians go hell for leather without any thought for the years they’re taking off not only their lives in performing the material, but those of the listeners who hear it.

Pre-release single “Elliptical Orbit” is just as much of a rampage through Technical Death Metal as both cuts that preceded it and does the unthinkable with short incendiary bursts of faster paced stuff that brings the heat like pyrotechnics. How they have managed to pack so much energy into these tracks is beyond the realm of the human imagination. The time signatures in the hands of lesser skilled mortals would create absolute bedlam and then there is the title track. Which is the very definition of fretboard smoking speed when it opens up. Any  guitarist must have to drink plenty of water and do finger stretching exercises with calloused hands in order to maintain the performance levels. The mid track slow down is actually a welcome respite when it happens because otherwise the brain would be haemorrhaging with the sheer influx of cerebral cortex tickling that the band create. The best part is that over multiple listens there are other things, dark moments, little nuances with the bass that pop out of the mix. The final cut is “Mortal Sun” and if you were expecting the band to throw down a moment of Country music then you’re in the wrong place. Instead we are treated to a cluster bomb blast of Technical Death Metal that gives Rings Of Saturn a run for their money. Where others would lack control, the rhythmic dynamics are perfectly weighted to take your head off at neck snapping speed and that leaves us with a record that is already an early contender for EP of the year listings come awards season [9/10]

Track Listing

1. The Vast Profound
2. Moon Dweller
3. Elliptical Orbit
4. Dimensions Unfurled
5. Mortal Sun

Dimensions Unfurled” by Celestial Scourge is out 20th January 2023 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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