Soulburn was molded by the hands of Dutch death metal legends during the 1990s. After the demise of Asphyx, a handful of its former members launched this blasphemous band in the mid-90s and released an album called “Feeding on Angels.” Before long, Soulburn was put on ice. The work that became “The Suffocating Darkness” had started as a Bathory-styled project featuring an esteemed roster of death metal journeymen, apparently—Bob Bagchus and Eric Daniels, both of whom hail from Asphyx, had been in league with God Dethroned’s Henri Sattler and Rogga Johansson. But things change, and for whatever reason Soulburn found new life and was raised from the abyss, although without Sattler and Rogga, who parted ways with the former Asphyx warriors. Enough history lessons for one day, no?
Sixteen years it took for Soulburn to return, and they have done a magnificent job. “The Suffocating Darkness” is a bombing balance of impious death/black metal in the vein of Necrophobic or Unanimated and authentic Asphyx-grade grooves that could doom one to death. Baptized in a raw, crunchy production mixed by one Dan Swanö, this is a total onslaught in both its execution and style. The brand of death/black metal practiced does not exceed creative limits, but powerful riffs giving nods to blazing blackened bits and creepy atmospheric parts open up the album’s hotheaded style to various tempos, especially those devastating slower sections. The way the measures are orchestrated makes for some serious neck damage.
Black metal movements on “The Mirror Void” and “I Do Not Bleed from Your Crown of Thorns” and the minimalist riffs show the influences of Bathory, Venom, and Celtic Frost seeping in to the band’s death metal roots. For fifty minutes the relentless slaughter grinds and slices, punching through flesh with torching tremolo-picked frenzies and Bagchus’ blast-free detonations behind the drum kit. Raspy vocals and a crispy guitar tone augment its annihilating instrumental front, putting a sacrilegious glaze over the authentic, searing skeleton that is “The Suffocating Darkness.” Again, nothing hugely original, but the direction and execution are done masterfully, bringing out the decay in death metal and the profanity of Soulburn’s black metal roots.
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