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Horrendous – The Chills

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As we enter the second wave of OSDM (third? Who’s counting?), the up-and-comers are finally getting past hero-worship and writing some fucking songs. Bands like Morbus Chron, Entrails, Miasmal, and Demonical — all Swedish, for some reason — have lifted the sonic template of the old school but shredded the blueprints, delivering an updated take on traditional ripping death. With Horrendous’s The Chills, you can finally add an American band to the festering pile.

On paper, Horrendous look boring. Painfully unoriginal song titles like “The Ritual” and “Altars”, bland artwork, HM-2 pedals… I’m already yawning. But the band has two things going for them, and they’re the most intangible gifts: songcraft and taste. Horrendous steal from the best, blatantly, but they own it. Entombed guitars rub up against Asphyx vocals, Slayer melodies bleed into gloomy slow sections, hinting at everything from Autopsy to Convulse.

Horrendous tweak the recipe with the inclusion of omnipresent lead guitar. If James Murphy is the grand master, these dudes spent a month studying at the same temple. The technical chops aren’t as developed, but their songwriting often outshines their elders. Left Hand Path is mostly famous for its epic title track — Horrendous know that song back to front, exploring variations on that theme throughout all nine songs of The Chills. Across the nine-minute closing track, “The Eye of Madness”, the band shift styles continuously, with a long-form melodic groove transitioning into d-beat sections, gothic doom, echoing feedback, and monastic chants. That inventiveness serves them well, as the album never lags.

Careers are built on the backs of albums this strong. With any luck, there’s more brilliance to come — hopefully with better song titles.

—Aaron Lariviere

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Horrendous – “The Womb”

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Horrendous – “The Eye of Madness”

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Dark Descent Records (CD, vinyl to follow)

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