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Chestcrush - Apechtheia EP

Apechtheia EP
by SJ Loschi at 25 November 2022, 4:22 AM

Edinburgh UK band CHESTCRUSH aptly emerged amidst the burning pyres of the global suckfest known as Covid with their 2020 demo, followed shortly by their first full-length album “Vthelygimia” in 2021. And now, like the virus that ravaged through the bodies of one-eighth of the human population and killed close to 7 million people- the gory glory of “Apechtheia” seems to arise from the festering piles of the remnant flesh of a planet’s shattered lungs. This is planet-sized blackened death metal, and where “Vthelygmia” found the band covered in the innards of a planet wracked with disease and misery, “Apechtheia” is the sound of the same band wearing these entrails like the cloaks of hangmen.  It’s a pretty astonishing sophomore release, confident and pulsating in all the right places, even if those veins and arteries have long since closed.

The first song on this 29-minute EP, “Misery. Decline. Death” sets the tone, with a sludgy, viscous riff that seems like a brutal 21st century play on those first three legendary notes from BLACK SABBATH’s namesake song from 1970, as if Ozzy Osbourne and the rest were sloughed through the blood and viscera of Vietnam and all the bloodbaths since then.  Three minutes in and the blast beats emerge, like the hell-wracking fire from an M-134 machine gun.  The song returns to the main motif, only to drag the listener to the end, as it bears down into what seems to be the over-driven rotors of a helicopter, with eerie choral-like vocals bringing the 9-minute song to its end, before the band launches into the second track “The Despiser”.

“The Despiser” wastes no time in letting the listener know that CHESTCRUSH is ready to, well, crush some chests, Covid-wracked lungs be damned.  The blast beats are plentiful, as Evanelos Vasilakos’ tremolo-picked chords wash over the song.  Topias Jokipii supplies some haunting vocals that seem to emerge from underneath the quagmire.  It’s a nice segway to the brutal shift that comes about 3:30 into the song, which seems to really showcase the extreme vocals of Jokipii- guttural growls juxtaposed over piercing screams adding to the general ferocity of the track.  The song ends, similar to the intro, on a noisy, frightening descent into atonality.  Another choral outbreak slowly emerges, as if the massacre has ended, and the funeral is just beginning.

But it’s the final song “Repression” that really elevates this three song journey.  CHESTCRUSH take a creative risk here.  Unlike their first album, which was a collection of tight, blackened metal songs nestled into short, sonic explorations, “Apechtheia” takes its (not so sweet) time.  This isn’t an easy story for CHESTCRUSH to tell.  It’s the apocalypse, and the only people left are the ones who were able to dodge the virus that brought the world to its broken, scabbed-over knees. CHESTCRUSH could have easily ended the record with another successful take on modern black metal, but instead they choose to go darker.  They bring us down into the dungeons of the underworld, where the lungs of the dead have been tossed into a festering, gooey heap of rotten tissue. There is nary a guitar to be heard: just a single, ominous chord that throbs throughout and the occasional, disturbing sound of metal on metal, hammers of fear.  It’s a gut-wrenching, challenging finale: one that lets the world know that CHESTCRUSH is here to beckon us into the next macabre twist in humankind's sordid journey to the bottom.

CHESTCRUSH have produced what might be one of the finest- if not darkest- black metal albums of the year.  The album oozes with confidence.  The production is fat and beautiful, making it infinitely listenable.  This isn’t an easy thing to do, considering just how downright miserable the music is. There’s no telling how far down the abyss CHESTCRUSH will take us, but something tells me this Edinburgh trio is willing to strap the chains to the necks of its minions to drag them through the blackened morass.  And we will all be their willing slaves.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Misery. Decline. Death
2. The Despiser
3. Repression
Robin Stone - Drums
Evangelos Vasilakos - Guitars, Bass, Programming
Topias Jokipii - Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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