A double dose of Coffinworm reviews – Gruesome Greg and Matt Hinch both weigh in on IV.I.VIII. The Indiana band’s second full-length album is out on Profound Lore.
It’s been nearly four years in the making for album number two from this Indiana sludge crew, and I was hoping it’s been worth the wait. I’m one of those weirdos who free-associates Indianapolis with doom, and while these guys have a harsher, crustier sound than Indy brethren Apostle of Solitude and The Gates of Slumber, I still dug their debut back in the day. The song titles here are a little less ridiculous than their first record’s, so hey, that’s a start…
“Sympathectomy” kicks things off, and while that’s not a real word, you can feel the meaning it conveys right from the opening barrage of blasting death metal. By the time it slows down, all sympathy for humanity has successfully been removed. “Instant Death Syndrome,” a very real affliction (among babies) starts off slow, but brings out the blasting a bit later, the kind of depressing, oppressive black-metal attack that could only come from the frozen fjords of Norw… erm, Indiana?
“Of Eating Disorders and Restraining Orders” (great song title) offers up a slice of grinding, grating slow-mo sludge that’ll go straight to your hips – provided you don’t purge it out later. File this one next to the new Indian and soon-to-be-released second Lord Mantis… incidentally, both from Chicago. And remind me not to visit the Midwest!
— Gruesome Greg
Sometimes it feel like “blackened doom” is the genre du jour. Not to complain. The fusion of two of the most emotional metallic sub-genres only amplifies what the listener gets from the music when it’s done right. But the term has begun to become a catch-all phrase and the results can be hit or miss. Fear not – well, actually fear a lot – Coffinworm are most definitely a hit with their new album IV.I.VIII.
In this writer’s opinion, blackened doom should be more that just black metal and doom put together. What Coffinworm do here is quite literally take doom and blacken it. The album is pure doom through and through encrusted with filth and seared over eternal hell fires leaving its heart bloody and raw. On the outside is impenetrable darkness.
IV.I.VIII’s bleak timbre and ingrained malevolence sucks the very life from its environs. There is only death and destruction. It’s so dark and foreboding that it not only absorbs all light but it ensnares it in an iron grasp and buries it so deep all hope of escape is lost.
Coffinworm play with tempos as a feral beast plays with its kill before devouring it. Quick tempos of black metal runs descend through mid-paced rumbling stomps through to syrupy and funereal doom. All the while Cerberus-ian vocals set the nerves on edge. Predominantly a mix of hellish growling and desiccated BM screams, the third head makes its presence known, barking away on “A Death Sentence Called Life.” Much of the time the vocals are unintelligible but when clarity comes, the utterances are sinister.
Mingling with the depraved doom and black metal, adding even more to the fathomless depth, is a harsh and offending noise, most notably on “Of Eating Disorders and Restraining Orders.” The dread and otherworldly noises underpin the dirty rhythms and classically haunting doom. Gnarly bass, slow dirges and harrowing screams highlight the tremendous track.
“Sympathectomy”’s dense negativity drains any heat from the black pit of despair in which it lingers. D-beats, swirling menace and punishment are pierced by the icy stalactites forming in the blackened atmosphere. Melancholia underscores the massive riffs and hammer and tong percussion on “Black Tears.” Rage and mourning clash like waves against a cliff face, neither relenting to the other’s powerful insistence.
A heinous cloud of wrath hangs over IV.I.VIII. A caustic drizzle soaks the listener to the bone. It weighs heavy on the soul. Attempts to escape the unrelieved hatred of Coffinworm prove futile as each of the six tracks fulfill the darkest intentions buried deep within the soul. No matter how uncomfortable Coffinworm make the listener, pleasure arises from the unending pain. Sanford Parker’s production ensures every voracious, visceral and volatile second leaves its mark, a blight on the skin of humanity that spreads like a cancer until all that’s left is a rotting mass of malignity.
The purity of the heart-stopping terror Coffinworm cruelly induces may go unmatched this year. Albums this deep with malice, loathing and thirst for destruction don’t come along very often. Just being corrosive and hateful is one thing, but taking the listener to such levels of oppression and depravity while maintaining dynamics, groove, memorable riffs and out and out power puts Coffinworm among the elite.
The sickened Ouroboros on the cover is undeniably apt as the force of IV.I.VIII cannot be extinguished and it’s a virtual guarantee you’ll keep returning to this harrowing and complex journey through the darkest of realms.
“Now I know the full power of evil. It makes ugliness seem beautiful and goodness seem ugly and weak.”
~ August Strindberg
— Matt Hinch