Review: “Forever Below” by Putrascension

It has been a long hard road out of hell for New Jersey Blackened Death Metal quintet Putrascension. An outfit comprised of seasoned veteran musicians known for their prior convictions in Windfaerer, Replicant, WolfCloak, Tombs, Abacinate, Kalopsia and Hammer Fight to name but a few, they have had to endure a two year wait to deliver us to evil. Their debut album, tracked, mixed and mastered between the summer and winter months of 2021 by Bobby Torres and Benjamin Karas at Frightbox Recording only now seeing the cold light of day. Featuring cover artwork created by Misanthropic-Art (Asphyx, Behemoth, Katatonia), it follows two well received EPs in “Hate Lust” and 2020’s “The Obsidian Fog” and is said to continue their journey with a collection of apocalyptic hymns…

A tornado of Black Metal percussion from Justin Spaeth reanimates the corpse of Putrascension for opening cut “Deeper Hell” with vocalist Michael Gonçalves spitting blood and venom. His shriller unclean vocals border on feral with untamed intensity as the music races away restless and relentlessly around him, every word perfectly audible and equally disturbing. While there is no solo to speak of, the guitar work creates an atmosphere both haunting and sinister that sends a chill down the spine as do a couple of unhinged moments in “Hydrohammer“. A tale of water torture with an evil circus like riff in the centre wrapped in a bombastic bassline from Joe Kreiss, this one feels like it’s stolen from an exploitation movie, such is the storytelling power of Gonçalves. Introducing a splattering of riffs usually found in Chaotic Hardcore into their Black Metal influenced hybrid for “Void Within” is a masterstroke as the band go all out attack with yet more vocal evil from Gonçalves. The bass rumbles during a stomp laden mid section, the song a tour de force of what this collective have been about since their inception. A blood curdling scream ushers in “Stillness“, a cut fiercely driven by blasting and yet counterbalanced perfectly by haunting melodic leads. A deeper, darker vocal register is found fleetingly, adding a fresh depth and texture before a spoken word feels like you need to check the sanity clause on your contract before listening any further. One of the bands finest moments, this is truly one to savour in its violent turbulence, the ethereal qualities of the backing vocals giving it the power to descend the shades of night.

Another theatrical spoken word introduces “Carved In Fog“, a fierce sonic abrasion of necessary evil with a cosmic undertone. As bleak and cold as the Scandinavian forests, it explores anxiety and self destruction as Gonçalves confesses to being nothing more than a grain in the sand on the shores of eternity. Lines like “not anti life, just anti me” haunt with a resonance, the pummelling rhythms that swirl around the vocals giving them more edge as the knife is buried deep. Remaining steadfast in self loathing “Efface” continues the tirade with another scorching riff before some ghostly warbling vocals give this one the feeling of a low budget Gothic psychological horror movie with a warped sense of reality. The atmospheres the band are able to create across this album are darkly majestic but none more so than on grand finale “Meslamtaea” which brings in acoustic guitars and orchestration to bolster the offering without abandoning any of the chains of their core sound. A choir of evil voices combine to create a celestial force while the soaring melodies of the guitars give the tragedy the epic quality of nature untamed as Gonçalves screams “I am but a shadow of past mistakes!“. An album to stir the soul, this one will leave you questioning exactly what you just witnessed… [7.5/10]

1. Deeper Hell
2. Hydrohammer
3. Void Within
4. Stillness
5. Carved In Fog
6. Efface
7. Meslamtaea

Forever Below” by Putrascension is out 6th October 2023 via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions with pre-orders are available over at bandcamp.

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