Horrendous – “Ozymandias” (Premiere)
From the start, Philadelphia death metal trio Horrendous did a lot of things right: their album art is always stellar, they have a talent for naming songs that rivals Remission-era Mastodon, and most importantly they sound as if they were cryogenically frozen in 1992 and thawed out five years ago. And people took notice: Decibel Magazine named their 2014 album, Ecdysis one of the best of the year (see what I mean about names?).
That album excited a few staff writers, but left me mostly cold with the exception of a short instrumental, “Vermilion,” which displayed a kind of melodic acumen that modern metal bands with more experience than Horrendous seldom aspire to. On their latest album, Anareta, every song is as good as “Vermilion.” A love letter to the final four albums by Death—my personal favorites in Chuck Schuldiner’s output—the record showcases an advanced control of rhythmic push and pull. My Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor often speaks about how controlling a person’s center of gravity gives one control over that person’s whole body; it is the same with music. Horrendous own the rhythm, so they own your head and the way it will bang.
And it will bang. As proof, listen to the second track on Anareta, “Ozymandias” (those names!). It’s namesake, Percy Shelly’s classic poem (see below), refers to the remains of long-dead idols, and the impermanence of human civilization. For Horrendous, those honored hulks are early 90’s death metal, and the listeners who will be laid waste by their music.
Here is Percy Shelly’s “Ozymandias,” in case you never took Freshman English.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.