“Epitome of Morbid” EP

By El Chief

One of the great aspects of extreme metal is how it pushes geographical boundaries for the average American listener. Traditional metal was mostly confined to Hollywood, England and Germany. But with the invasion of black and death metal, secondary markets like Sweden, Poland and Italy became just as important as the hair metal bands shaking the rafters on Sunset & Vine. However, there are still some locales where all forms of metal remain underground. Bangladesh is one of those untapped markets, despite being located in one of the world's most densely populated regions. Death metal neophytes Nekrohowl would like to change that and are releasing their first EP, "Epitome of Morbid."

The songs are surprisingly well-crafted for an initial foray into recorded music. These artists know their chops, and the resulting sound is somewhere between Beyond Creation and Cannibal Corpse. What impresses me most is how the musicians don't struggle with tempo changes. Abrupt transitions are where new bands go to die. Even with Pro Tools it takes effort to turn the chaotic shifts emblematic of technical death metal into something so smooth you don't notice how hard it really is. Since Nekrohowl can play this seamlessly straight out of the starting gate, I'd love to know what they can cook up after a few more years of honing their chops on stage.

If there's one misstep, it's with the EP's opener, "Summoning Darkness." Meant to be a moody first strike into their world, it comes off as a wasted experiment in atmospheric metal. That's not to say it's bad. The crime is that it neither sets the album's tone nor gives a glimpse into the musicianship to come. Still, given the formulaic constraints inherit to death metal, hearing something different pour out of the speakers makes me wonder if Nekrohowl plans to blend more of this into future efforts. I'll be listening either way.