Though it is great to see genres evolving as bands stretch their boundaries it is just as appetising and satisfying to hear the old school sounds continued with style and heart. This is just what Northern Ireland death metalers Rex Shachath do with their debut mini album Sepulchral Torment. It is a release which is neck deep in the depths and passion of old school death metal but ignites them with their own energy and skilled presence to bring arguably one of the freshest and enjoyable genre releases this year.
The band was formed in the closing weeks of 2011 by vocalist Dave Connolly who approached Overoth guitarist Andrew Pennington about starting new death metal band. The pair soon became a quintet as drummer Jay Rogers also from Overoth along with bassist Eddie West and guitarist Jonathan Francis from defunct old school death metal band Sadisture, joined the ranks. The band entered the studio earlier this year to record Sepulchral Torment, which had its release on September 7th via Hostile Media, with the live debut of the band occurring the same time when they shared the stage with UK D-Beat Death metal masters The Rotted and grind quartet The Obscene Machine. With a tour booked for late September through October which will see Rex Shachath touching the likes of the Scottish highlands, Wales and London, and the release of the mini album, there would not be an element of surprise with the great impressive quality of the release, if they are immediately marked for great things by all.
The title track immediately tells you all you need to know about the band: brutal, accomplished, and driven to make the best sounds possible with as much aggression and inventive passion. The song storms through the ear from the first note with sheer hunger and determination to leave knees buckling in its wake. With surging riffs and combative rhythms the track brings submission its way before unleashing a consumptive intensity and acute melodic breath to shadow the excellent growling guttural presence of Connolly. Generally if there is an issue to be had with death metal bands it lies within the vocals more often than not but not here. As malicious and rabid as you could wish, Connolly still retains clarity to allow the lyrics to express their own venomous intent.
It is a very impressive start with great heated guitar work which is easily matched by the next track Follow The Bastard Prophet. The track too surges with a greedy enthusiasm which instigates a hypnotic pull from the first breath, the guitars of Pennington and Francis twisting and winding around the ear with magnetic skill whilst the bass and drums of West and Rogers bring a cold predatory presence which marks all songs. Though the tracks are at times as brutal and callous as you could wish one has to say they do carry sonic warmth to their enterprise to add depth and imagination.
Blind From Birth and Seven Serpents continue the immense pleasure the release has already offered up, the swarming malevolence of the first a sneaky assault behind the scorched guitar work and rasping guttural groans and squalls of the vocals whilst the second just rampages across the bruising already brought to bear by the whole release to this point, its hornet groove a grinding rub over the senses.
As the excellent Statues Of Death brings the release to a close there are only impressive thoughts and emotions evoked towards the release. Arguably the production could have been a little livelier but the quality of the songs ensures it does not remove any of their shine in what is overall a mighty introduction from the band and a benchmark for other new bands to aspire to. Remember the name Rex Shachath as it will be one heard more and more in the years ahead.
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