By Lord Randall

 When you think of the groundbreaking eras/subgenres of death metal, certain moments come to mind. The Sunlight  Studios sound of early Sweden, the tectonic plate-shifting schizoid fury of NYDM and the swampy, gore-drenched Floridian variety all held in high regard. But what about when something comes along that changes all that? Something that not only reveres its legacy, but sets a new benchmark. ATHEIST did it more than once. GORGUTS did it with "Obscura" (to be honest, I’m not even sure that album was played by humans). And now, truly unexpectedly, HORRENDOUS does it with "Ecdysis".

While "The Chills" was a solid album in its own right, the trio that delivers "Ecdysis" leaves no stone unturned in the cold, grey realms of death, but manages to shimmer with a veritable palette of riffwork and melody, sacrificing neither heaviness nor harmony with 7+-minute opener ‘The Stranger’. Scathing yet understandable vocals weave themselves into the sonic tapestry that is ‘Weeping Relic’, while ‘Resonator’ slows down the pace a bit, confirming that HORRENDOUS writes with the song in mind, building a foundation first rather than framework then pouring the sonic concrete and “hoping it holds”. ‘The Vermillion’ is acoustic and lush, and the first of two instrumentals to be found on "Ecdysis" – the second being the speed/metal friendly ‘When The Walls Fell’, a welcome change these days, where most younger bands are fearful of throwing their musical sexparts on the table without a vocalist to gurgle over them. Speaking of vocals, the style employed by the threesome is of the Schuldiner/van Drunen variety, rendering them understandable, yet ragged, especially on personal favorite ‘Monarch’.

In all, HORRENDOUS has done more than inadvertently “miss” the sophomore slump. What they’ve done is, despite their youth, created what is hopefully a benchmark of sorts for forward-thinking death.