Being into death metal since 1989-90, I will never again experience the groundbreaking experiences, feelings and shock of a musical form that just broke every barrier that there ever was and re-wrote the rule book. Listening to Left Hand Path or Like an Ever Flowing Stream and experiencing that WOW factor which has sadly not happened too many times since the glory days. But here we have Sentient Horror; a band formed in 2014 from New Jersey, USA, who have set about recreating that feeling of the glory days.
Founded by guitarist/vocalist Matt Moliti, Matt recruited band members who he had known for years; after all, he was their music tutor. Ungodly Forms is their debut album, mixed by Damian Herring (Horrendous) and mastered by Dan Swanö who had this to say about Ungodly Forms:
One of the best SweDeath projects I have come across in the last 20 years. The perfect blend of all the highlights from the Swedish scene from 89 to 91. Truly awesome!
High praise indeed and without further ado, let’s dissect this album for you lovely readers.
A 50 second intro starts us off before we hit “Abyssal Ways” and then you hear that guitar sound again. What is it with Americans recently sounding more Swedish than the Swedish do? To start we just have a riff then the mid pace drums come in. Vocals remind me of the very early days of death metal and are almost fully audible with that echo sound. This track had me smiling from ear to ear and got me all nostalgic as this is just classic Swedish death metal at its best. The riffs remind me of Carcass also, especially the solos, with Matt lifting the sound of the track reminiscent of Heartwork-era Carcass. The chorus reminds me of Goresfest a bit, but everything is all Swedish, namely Nightmares Made Flesh-era Bloodbath.
“Die Decay Devour” starts off at relentless pace without the blast beats, just fast thrashing riffs before slowing down and getting your neck snapping in the mid section of the song. It reminded me of Dismember around the time they released Soon To Be Dead, which is a major plus in my book. The bass of Ian Jordan is allowed to shine through the mix here and provides drummer Ryan Cardoza a chance to freely establish his style. The solo in this song, as indeed those across the album as a whole, is not your standard 100mph solo. They are more classic rock and Carcass in feel again.
Next we have “Blood Rot”, which starts a bit thrashier sounding than the previous tracks, which is not a concern at all, it just takes it away from the SweDeath of previous tracks. In fact, I would say that there are stronger hints of Dismember in this track after repeated listens. “Blood Rot” will get the pit started with its intense riffage and steadfast drumming.
“Splinter the Cross” comes next with a nice slow start building up the tension before releasing the fury and with great songwriting and riffs and is another one to get that pit starting when the blast beats come in. This again is just Bloodbath all over and is one of a number of stand out tracks from the album. “Beyond the Curse of Death” again starts off all Dismember/Bloodbath but with enough tweaks to add their own touch to the song. The solo once again lifts the track that bit into technical territory, but there’s no guitar wankery on show here – just great solos sounding like Carcass and maybe even Death. The song is fast paced from beginning to end and if SweDeath from 20 years ago is what you are after, then this song, as they all do, will please you.
Next we have the title track, “Ungodly Forms” which slows the pace of the album right down. The pace is similar to Morbid Angel’s Where the Slime Live but that’s where the similarity to these gods ends. Matt’s vocals shine through here as there is much more emphasis on them due to the slow speed of the song and he can growl with the best of them. This is one for the moshers out there. Do I think this is the best song on the album? No. It is the best title of a song on the album though.
“Suffer to the Grave” is up next and I was thinking of Bloodbath again at the opening sequences of riffs. This is all things classic Swedish Death metal in that it starts off slowly again before the pace picks up towards the end of the song. You can see a wall of death getting ready to unleash from the beginning of the song until this point where the guitar solo ends halfway in and then… carnage. Actually Carnage is another reference point for this album!
“A Host of Worms” starts with fast-paced riffage and drums, a la Blinded by Fear-era At the Gates. There are some nice time changes in this song. Special mention must go to Ryan Cardoza, who has shown throughout the album that he is well on the way to becoming an established drummer on the scene, and on many occasions I was thinking of Adrian Erlandsson.
“Of Filth and Flesh”. Doesn’t that title just remind you of the glory days when death metal was at its prime? Again there are nice time changes in the song, from mid-paced to slow and then the solo kicks in. Matt is an exceptional guitar soloist and doesn’t take his solo influences from too many death metal guitarists as previously stated. If there was to be one, I would hint at Chuck Schuldiner, but I would say more prog or classic than Death. You just have to listen to it yourself to see what I mean.
Next we have a nice instrumental called “Mourning” which got me to lower my head, close my eyes and appreciate the talent on show here. Then all hell let loose, with the last track ”Celestial Carnage” which I have to say is my favourite out of the whole album. It’s good to hear the bass of Ian Jordan sound clear and adding depth to the mix as with most SweDeath sounding albums, the bassist can often be overlooked in the sound. Remember Dreaming in Red by Dismember? Well this is Sentient Horror’s tribute to that song as there are a lot of similarities. Everything on this song just clicks, from the simple riff and drums from the start right through to the fast pace and chaotic solo. Then we have the end of this song, which is very reminiscent of Entombed’s “Left Hand Path”, with keyboards and just a mesmerising riff, the best on the album I think. Put a massive grin on my face, this track did, as did the majority of this album. I for one will be very keen to follow this band and see where they go with their next album.
A final word on Sentient Horror. Support them. Even if you’re like me, 43 and just remember the old days. Well if you want one hell of a nostalgia trip, you won’t be able to do a lot better than Sentient Horror. It may take their next album before they venture over to Europe, but with Ungodly Forms, Sentient Horror have given themselves one helluva chance for more doors to open for themselves.
Ungodly Forms is out now
Sentient Horror: facebook