Emerging Through Fire, which itself recently emerged from Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, is the latest offering from Philidelphia-based black/death act Blasphemous. I could ramble on about which genre description I personally think suits their sound best, but it would be more effective to leave it at this: Blasphemous sounds like old-school US death metal (Malevolent Creation in particular) fused with the post-2000s style of melodic death metal (think The Black Dahlia Murder more than the Gothenburg approach). That being said, there’s a variety of elements at play here and it really depends on which riff/song you’re digesting. What’s important is that it all sounds great; be it a thrashy mid-section, a smooth, melodic riff, or a macabre and well-constructed guitar solo, Emerging Through Fire hits most of the sweet spots that it aims for.
As is characteristic of melodeath (which I will continue to emphasize as one of Blasphemous’ strongest subgenre allegiances), the riffs and the solos are somehow dense with emotion. It’s difficult to get into writing, especially since this is an extremely subjective interpretation of music, but the subtle sadness of certain sections (the chorus of “Descend Into Nothingness” being an example) blends with the blistering and unrelenting waves of straight black/death assault interspersed and the result is some grandiose evocation of emotion. To phrase it briefly, Emerging Through Fire is great at holding attention and keeping the listener engaged throughout.
But now that this album’s praises have been sung, there is a fairly prominent weak link to be addressed. The quality of the recording itself is spotty, and this is immediately apparent from the sound of the guitar, which comes on the record as rough and choppy but without the often-times endearing warmth that a lo-fi recording can provide. The effect on the other instrumentation is negligible, however, and ultimately harmless, while the Deicide/Malevolent Creation-esque vocals actually manage to benefit from the flawed production. The gravelly nature of the vocals makes them better suited for this rougher sound, but unfortunately for the guitarist especially, it doesn’t translate that way across the entire band.
Blasphemous takes the classic sound of American death metal and pushes it forward in a very logical and predictable but nevertheless refreshing direction. Emerging Through Fire, weak production aside, is a beautifully crafted record with a lot of great ideas and a lot of great execution. I know certain fans choose to avoid melodic death metal like the plague, but I think Blasphemous has a found a way around the usual pitfalls of the style and have created a more than worthwhile contribution to the great, swirling maelstrom of death metal that we have been blessed to live alongside.
Emerging Through Fire is now available physically and digitally from Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.