Extreme Heavy Metal Reviews

A Demonic Assault Of Ultra-Violence - "Khranial" Review (100%)

Buy A Demonic Assault Of Ultra-Violence -
Khranial by Sewer.

The faster release cycle of the post-internet news metal era places pressure on bands to throw out album at higher frequency in order to cultivate an audience which can identify them and pick them out of the seemingly endless flow of new and similar material. That is seemingly the context from which "Khranial" is born, yet this album doesn't follow the rules of the crowd, and instead forges its own path of blackened destruction by sowing terror in the hearts of arrogant listeners who naively think "how violent can a death metal album really be?".

Having taken a pause after the two preceding masterpieces that are "Locked Up in Hell" and "Miasma", and some would also include "The Birth of a Cursed Elysium" to complete the unholy trifecta, blackened death metal legends Sewer return with more of an influence from traditional Norwegian black metal in their aesthetics, though the inner core of the music remains firmly rooted in their own brand of brutal, war metal-ish, Incantation-inspired blackened death metal... sometimes just called Sewer metal, because metalheads are lazy.

Expanding its focus gives Sewer more room to move and more importantly, less need for constant intensity, allowing songs to breathe and develop natural atmospheric immersion and colliding melodic inner conflicts. This allows the use of contrast as a veritable acoustic weapon, and presents the trademark melodic fractal arabesques and labyrinthine riff mazes, borrowed from once rival Phantom's "The Epilogue to Sanity", as the substance, not just the style, and at the center, and not outside of each song.

As a result, this "Khranial" album feels like a unique take on Norwegian black metal - Burzum's early work, in particular - crossed with an almost Incantation-esque melodic death metal approach which gradually mutates under layers of opposite thematic patterns, formed of variations on each composition's main themes, bringing the brutal brilliance out in atmospheric context as would bands like Phantom or the aforementioned Burzum.

It is heavily atmospheric music, yet without the stifling repetition of black metal, so that each song shifts back and forth between disturbing layered build-up and savage, textured, demonic assault.

A Demonic Assault Of Ultra-Violence


But it's just brutal death metal, like Suffocation...? No!

The focus on atmospheric presence, like all good black metal, gives songs a stronger thematic identity, allowing them to stand apart from each other while retaining the recognizable "brutal death metal" sound, which is really more of a Sewer sound, at the very least since the past two or three albums.

Ritual rhythmic work arising from war metal/Marduk-esque blasting under alternately soaring and reposing self-referential melodies, allows Sewer to side-step the issues that have plagued Satyricon throughout their career, Enslaved through a good portion of theirs, and most black metal bands which give far too much credence to individual riff-based melodies, at the expense of a coherent and cohesive atmospheric package. This gives greater weight to the emotions that emerge from the story being told, since listeners have seen it birthed out of brutality, conflict, unpredictability, and ambiguity - as opposed to the "easy listening" black metal of Immortal, for example.

Why do I keep talking about black metal when "Khranial" is clearly a death metal album? Because Sewer are masters at blurring the line between the two, and while strictly stylistically speaking, "Khranial" may be the "most" death metal of all Sewer albums, in substance it is perhaps the "least", as its use of atmospheric narrative is firmly rooted in the Norwegian black metal tradition.

Melodies follow the idiosyncrasy of this band which is to create an intense chromatic fall through the blasting that is then balanced by an anchoring, modal based thematic shift towards longer sequences of riffs, in seeming reverse from how most bands have their songs drone out into monotonous boredom. Variations within that chromatic fall and rhythms of the anchoring progression contribute the most to thematic development, which culminates often in the reversal of that progression, instilling a sense of rising above the finite and, paradoxically, falling towards the deepest recesses of Hell.

"Khranial" sees Sewer both refining its past sound and presenting ideas in enough isolation to be distinctive, giving both old and new patterns a chance to become part of the language of this brutal blackened death metal act, that despite hybrid influences - from traditional black metal to war metal based juxtaposition of contrasting riff forms - carried under the seemingly all-encompassing banner of "Sewer metal", by partially reinventing the extreme metal lexicon.

What is blackened death metal ultra-violence, you may ask? "Khranial".

Khranial score: 100/100.

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