Outer Heaven share “What Lies Beneath,” touring with Full of Hell
It is important to consider the broader ecosystem of death metal. It’s a genre with a tremendous sum of cross-pollination, and very rarely do fans or players within the genre listen exclusively to one subdomain within the greater field. There is the technical end, the proggy end, the blackened end, the thrashy end; gory, cerebral, political, emotional; fantastical, realist, abstract. And, in the case of Outer Heaven and their upcoming full-length Realms of Eternal Decay, the incredibly gut-level.
It must be said that being gut-level as opposed to, say, cerebral, is not bad. Cannibal Corpse, for instance, legends that they are, helped engineer this brand of hyperbolically violent and over-the-top type of brutal death metal, one that is just as comfortable in a D-beat stomp as with finger-twisting technical passages and blastbeat-driven tremolo pick patterns. Realms of Eternal Decay‘s reliance on the more blank-faced and immediately bruising end of death metal is not a mark against it; it represents a necessary component in the ecosystem of death metal. Because, ultimately, heavy metal derives not only from the heady psychedelia of the 1960s but also the visceral dance-oriented body music that has driven rock and its aligned genres since their creation.
The fact that Outer Heaven can craft riffs and grooves that utterly shut the brain off and turn even the most Proust- and Badiou-obsessed bibliophiles into unthinking mosh machines is a sign of success. Listen to an exclusive premiere of the album’s second track “What Lies Beneath” below in music video form.
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This all describes the larger modus operandi of Realms of Eternal Decay, an album title so gloriously over the top with its murky, wet corpses, and dripping disintegrating bodies gracing the cover that you cannot help but immediately understand their primary objective. But Outer Heaven has other tricks up their sleeves, too; lead single “Bloodspire”, for instance, sits on the more angular and cerebral end of brutal death metal, inspiring less a full-body mosh and more a close-eyed sneering head bob as it dips into the quarter-time mid-period Morbid Angel solo section in the midst of what had already been a tempo-jumping round of chunky sandpaper riffing. And while “Bloodspire” maintains that mood throughout its four minutes, the band is smart enough to pepper the rest of the tracks with moments and transitions of that similar style. Not only does this bring a great sense of variety to the record, something slam death bands and some of the more mosh-oriented brutal death metal bands could take notes from, but also it underscores the deliberacy of dumber moments of the record.
In turning again to the broader ecosystem of death metal, we have already received a remarkable slate of progressive and technically-minded death metal this year alone. That is a crowded field, one studded with incredible entries. Which makes the arrival of a slice of premium “shut up and mosh” death metal so satisfying. Outer Heaven dose their paeans to violence with equal measures of harmonized dissonant guitar passages, punky D-beats and classic Lombardo half-time grooves, thick and nasty bass breaks (with audible bass tone!), and classic Morbid Angel-style tremolo picked riffs. They demonstrate a mastery of a wide variety of different death metal and hardcore styles, ranging from pure physicality and cerebral constructed riffing, and wield them toward the single goal of shutting your brain off and forcing you to headbang.
We talk a lot about atmospheric metal, and generally when we use that phrase we mean bands that rely on moody ambient passages. But what that phrase means, at its heart, is using soundscape, no matter how that sound is made, to conjure a deliberate and undeniable atmosphere and ambiance. Outer Heaven, with Realms of Eternal Decay, join the ranks of Dismember and Gatecreeper in terms of summoning an immediate and imagistic world of rot, bringing to mind instantaneously and undeniably the classic line- and shadow-heavy drawings of horror comics new and old. Because another name for immediacy in death metal is single-mindedness, the ability to quiet the mind that existed before the record and replace it totally with the images of the artist’s intent.
Outer Heaven will make you feel like a teenager again, flipping through death metal album art as the horrific riffs and demonic howls whipped around you, conjuring images of a permanent night time world and deathly decaying fantasy. What’s more, with the elements they display, Outer Heaven don’t pen themselves in for a follow up; one could imagine them branching off to more elaborate death metal just as easily as releasing a fierce D-beat beatdown. Realms of Eternal Decay is a remarkable and potent death metal record, one that affirms the continuing power of its baser instincts, is perhaps the best metal debut of 2018.
As mentioned, Outer Heaven are also touring with their Relapse labelmates Full of Hell, including a Montclair, NJ show at The Meatlocker on October 11. All dates are listed below.
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Full of Hell / Outer Heaven — 2018 Tour Dates
Oct 10 Philadelphia, PA Voltage Lounge
Oct 11 Montclair, NJ Meatlocker
Oct 12 Washington, DC Atlas
Oct 13 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
Oct 14 West Columbia, SC Radio Room
Oct 15 Jacksonville, FL Nighthawks
Oct 16 Tampa, FL Crowbar
Oct 17 Miami, FL Gramp’s
Oct 18 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
Oct 19 Atlanta, GA 529
Oct 20 Charlotte, NC Skylark Social Club
Oct 21 Chesapeake, VA Riffhouse Pub