For a certain segment of our readership, I could review Gorephilia’s second full-length Severed Monolith in five words:
Finnish. Death metal. Dark Descent.
Now, I know that probably isn’t enough to make everyone reading this immediately head over to the Dark Descent webstore or Bandcamp page to put in a preorder, so allow me to elaborate. Gorephilia are a death metal band that formed in Vantaa, Finland a little over a decade ago. Their first full-length Embodiment of Death was released to generally positive reviews in 2012, but things have been relatively quiet in their camp ever since. In the interim, guitarist Jukka Aho has been pulling double duty with fellow Finns Krypts, and played on their excellent Remnants of Expansion, which came out last October.
Severed Monolith both picks up right where the band left off with Embodiment of Death and improves on that effort in almost every way. Unlike a lot of the bands on the Dark Descent roster, Gorephilia has always owed more of a stylistic debt to bands like Morbid Angel and Immolation than Demilich or Timeghoul, so the production here is nice and thick instead of reverb-drenched and cavernous. As such, this style of death metal basically lives and dies based on the quality of the riffs. Fortunately, there are a bunch of great ones on this album. The coda section of opening track “Interplanar” features some sweet tremolo-picking from the guitars, while the bass plays half-time whole notes underneath for a particularly cool effect. The frenetic intro riff on “Harmageddon of Souls” makes nice use of a pinch harmonic. Short instrumental track “Words that Solve Problems” is a tense mid-tempo number built around a sinister-sounding chord progression that then transitions seamlessly into the super-sick opening riff of album highlight “Black Horns.”
Not everything Gorephilia try on the record works, though. The 10-minute “Crushed Under the Weight of God” ends up being something of a riff salad, with too many ideas to fully cohere. The track is also bookended with short, ambient instrumental tracks that don’t seem to accomplish much. The spacey “Eternity” in particular disrupts the flow of the record leading into “Crushed,” even though it does sound kind of cool.
For the most part, though, Severed Monolith is a really solid record. If you like your death metal heavy on the riffs instead of atmosphere, check this one out post-haste.