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Subterraen – Rotten Human King Award winner

Rotten Human King
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 14 September 2020, 7:16 AM

SUBTERRAEN is a blackened doom/sludge band from France; “Rotten Human Kingdom” is their debut full length album.   The album speaks against the destruction human beings have caused Earth, and the vengeance that is thus returned. It is an interesting lyrical approach for sure but, most importantly, the album’s themes translate incredibly well musically. It heavy and dark enough to be the audio representation of what humans are doing to their only home but abrasive and scathing enough to also be a showcase for the many natural disasters that have struck us, especially in recent times.

The song structures are akin to funeral doom—very long with little repetition in terms of a “verse chorus verse” type song.  However, it isn’t particularly funeral like or overly depressive but instead very cautionary, angry, and even foreboding. I really enjoyed how riff based it is, despite how atmospheric it is as well.  A lot of atmospheric bands tend to use guitars to create a blanket or wall of sound but “Rotten Human Kingdom” is an album that uses the guitars to its advantage.  An interesting element is there actually isn’t a bass guitar on the album.  Instead, the guitars are down tuned and were played through guitar and bass cabinets.  This actually works out well and the music benefits by having a low end that still works to move the songs forward, rather than just hold as a foundation.

The first track, “Bood For The Blood Gods,” begins with ominous tones as the guitars slowly build up over a couple of minutes.  Tribal style drums begin their descent and land hard with solid and heavy hitting snare and bass attacks.  Clem’s vocals sound as tortured as anything I’ve heard this year, just unrelentingly anguish from the throat of a person who has much to say.   The lead guitar in the first quarter of the song has a bit of a psychedelic feel to it. Down tuned guitar and drums around the five minute mark give a brief respite before the band casts down destruction again with some slow but thick grooves. The guitars fade out around the 7:54 mark to the beat of heart beat style drums.  This next part is ambient, and oddly beautiful.  This passage leads back into more doom/sludge with the lead guitar taking the spotlight.

For A Fistful Of Silver,” is quite a bit more faster but the rich yet sweltering atmosphere remains intact.  I love the riffs around the 1:30 mark and they are highlighted even more with the higher bitched blackened shrieks and drums that keep it all together and lead them into a slightly more melodic path next.  The song has two major areas where the music kind of takes a minimalist approach.  Around the 4:15 mark, a hazy but no less darkened approach moves in waves over the drums and guitar feedback before returning to a more extreme section.  Around the 8:34 mark, a monolithic wall of sound encompasses everything but on a crushingly slow moving path.

The third track, “Oceans Are Rising,” is a short melodic interlude that is two and a half minutes long, give or take.  In context of the album as a whole, it is smartly placed and incredibly well done.  It isn’t a track that anyone will listen to by itself but serves its purpose. The final track, “Wrath Of A Downtrodden Planet” is a nineteen minute long beast of a song.  There is a finality in this track that is scary and the music reflects that fear of certain death.  Melodies twist in and out of the riffs like a tiny tree trying to thrive in solid concrete.  The song’s temp is the steady marching of death if things don’t change. The last few minutes of the song are rather intense death/doom that doesn’t let up until the last note fades away.

All in all, SUBTERRAEN have crafted a monumental doom metal album that is as big as a mountain, as dense at the universe, and musical monument to the change needed on our planet.

Song Writing: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Blood For The Blood Gods
2. For A Fistful Of Silver
3. Oceans Are Rising
4. Wrath Of A Downtrodden Planet
Clem Helvete – Guitar, Vocals
Chris KKP – Guitar
Milvus - Drums
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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