As the vocalist for Finnish grindcore legends ROTTEN SOUND, Keijo Niinimaa has been a card-carrying member of the extreme music elite for nearly three decades now. He has nothing left to prove, and yet with MORBID EVILS he continues to explore just how far below the mire he can drag each and every one of us. Trading his usual two-minute flurries of ferocity for a more suffocating concoction of sludge, death and doom metal, on the surface it’s a bit of a departure from his day job, but in other ways it isn’t. The weight remains; the violence remains; and, as the project’s latest and third album Supernaturals proves, the quality remains too.
Caked in distortion from start to finish, Supernaturals is all-encompassing in its heaviness. Its 40-minute runtime may offer a few fleeting moments of dynamic variation, but it would be wrong to ever call this respite. At no point does any light come poking through MORBID EVILS’ blanket of sludge, and even when things do quieten down there’s always the inevitability that the band will come back in heavier than a dying universe. The overall effect is one of total asphyxiation, with riffs, drums and Niinimaa’s apoplectic vocals combining to sit like blocks of lead on the listener’s chest.
Digging into the specifics, Supernaturals comes in four pretty evenly sliced chunks of feral and abrasive death-doom. Each track stretches way past the eight-minute mark at a very minimum, and even with the band painting from what you might call quite a limited sonic palette, they still find ways to remain compelling across these imposing runtimes. Take opener Fearless for example; a ten-and-a-half-minute monolith, it contorts its way through multiple tempo shifts – from slow doomy heft, to sludge-caked D-beats, to propulsive riff-driven grooves – in a manner that leaves listeners unsure of where the track might turn next, while also allowing such juxtapositions to sharpen the impact of each individual section.
From here, subsequent tracks Anxious, Tormented and Supernatural all essentially offer a similar thing. That isn’t a problem though; each track holds up fine in its own right, while also ultimately contributing to a record that works best as a full and miserable whole. It’s often quite hypnotic even, its devastating power sucking listeners further and further in as the album goes on. It’s probably worth making a note that the production is a little rough, but not terribly so. If anything it adds a little extra intensity – a raw edge that suits the primal nature of the music perhaps.
Ultimately then, as we have come to expect from Niinimaa, and indeed his current home of Transcending Obscurity Records, Supernaturals is another top drawer release in the world of all things violent and extreme. With the help of his bandmates Jarno Virkki and Tuomas Varila, Niinimaa has crafted a record which may not come too far out of left-field for those familiar with the likes of GRIEF or PRIMITIVE MAN, and yet one which still manages to feel fresh and gripping despite that. Music this bleak is never for everyone, but if you’re that way inclined then you’ll find plenty to keep you coming back to a record as supernaturally suffocating as this.
Supernaturals is set for release on August 19th via Transcending Obscurity Records.
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