Album Review: Sulphurous - The Black Mouth Of Sepulchre
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Its been a good moment since I really gave Sulphurous a listen. I checked out their debut 2018 full length release Dolorous Death Knell a few years ago and I remember that, while I enjoyed it, I was curious more than anything towards what the band would do next to evolve and take their sound in new directions. Formed in 2008 out of Hovedstaden, Denmark the band are one of the multitudinous bands that has been established out of the explosion of Danish extreme metal throughout the past decade or so. With Mathias Friborg at the guitar helm and Pawel Tunkiewicz at the drums, this pair are the driving force behind the band and its no surprise considering their prior, and current, experiences. Hyperdontia, Taphos, Witchburn, Phrenelith, Undergang etc, these are bands immediately worth your time and this duo have had experience with them in one way or another and its why I always centre my focus on any one of the Danish extreme metal bands or at least on this scene in particular. Now three years later, the band return with their sophomore album release titled The Black Mouth Of Sepulchre (and if I’m being honest, a more vivid and clearer album artwork to boot too) and I was fully prepared to lose myself within Sulphurous once more. I said I was curious to see where the band would take their sound following Dolorous Death Knell and its time I finally put them to the test.
I really liked how Sulphurous gave us a record that sounded as malevolent and uncompromising as The Black Mouth Of Sepulchre is. I’ve listened to a few records lately that possessed an evil sensibility but Sulphurous have a production here that really enables this feeling of savage death to permeate with zero effort. Everything feels like it’s aspiring for this highly rapid but unrefined sounding production that gives the album a particularly lean but untamed aesthetic. The riffs here aren’t written and performed to be sounded out with crisp clarity at any given moment, it’s as if they’re utilised to blend in with the rest of the band’s performance. As a result the faster segments create this semblance of a nightmarish fury that only swirls the more violently as you keep approaching. With that said however it’s good to acknowledge how the band will incorporate a more elevated and higher pitched guitar tone when they wish to break out into soloing, or more freeform guitar pieces. Not only does it grab your attention owing to how it stands out but the fact that we can recognise that these segments are capable of standing out, only lends more power and resolve to the band’s overall soundscape. The juxtaposing guitar tones are great here as neither one is so completely different from the other that they clash, rather they’re different enough to compliment one another.
The drums also carry out this approach to a wild and ruthless sounding record. The album on the whole carries with it this roaring and unconcerned attitude as per to what their sound will do to you, it’s rather reminiscent to being thrown into some cosmic, yet perverted, vortex where you’re going to end up as something very different in being at the end than you were when you first played this record. The drums aid to elicit this cavernous and funereal atmosphere by throwing good swathes of bass drums and cymbals into the mix, throwing away what control you thought you’d have over the record. By the time the first track is done with, any preconceptions of yourself having control in this situation is firmly flipped on its head as the drums throw heaps of bass and power your way. The drumming blends in with the production’s seething miasma of sound, which only lends the notion that the band did not come here to mess around.
It’s the type of riffs that Sulphurous inject into their songwriting that lends them the best thing to take away from this record however. As you continue to pay attention to what kind of album the band have here, you may pick up on how the riffs aren’t of the concrete and hyper dense variety that crash down on you with all the accumulated mass the band can possibly muster. The majority of riffs provided herein are of a faster, snappier nature but it’s how they’re implemented within the guise of the songwriting that makes them feel so effective. That weightier and darker production quality the band champion allows the more piercing guitar work to strike through with precise yet venomous dexterity. The riffs, much like the album in general, are fast and they’re always on the move and morphing themselves into tightly focused strumming, hammer-ons etc that allow them to be heard amidst the tumultuous soundscape. These riff segments are also counterbalanced by extremely quick chord changes as well as the blockier and more uncompromising sledgehammer riff attacks. It’s less about crafting something typically evil and benign, but instead something that feels like a descent and one that can come across as the swirling waves of horror as we only plunge further inside.
Honestly for an album sporting just 6 tracks and each one clocking in around 5 - 7 minutes long, it’s striking how fresh and organic the band managed to render each track as they come. I can confidently, and assuredly, state that there was never a moment throughout this record where I felt hungry for something more or something else from the band. The band really delivered in their songwriting, but more so in the way that they didn’t just revert to tried and true conventional track structure. There are periods where the riffs are of the chunkier variety, sometimes they’ll be a lot faster and sporadic in the directions they’ll fly in. The various bridges within the songwriting are telling too of the band’s approach to songwriting where they don’t just feel like you’re being shoved from one track to the next; Sulphurous seriously let you stew in the madness of the respective track you’re listening to, taking in everything they can possibly throw at you all the while hinting at where they may be going next. Whenever the band are undergoing a certain section of a song it’s practically a given that it won’t remain that way for too long before the band continue to evolve their sound for that track’s duration. As each track ends, you’ll feel like you’ve finished and begun a multitude of miniature journeys.
In conclusion, what Sulphurous have created for us is, as far as I’m concerned, light years ahead and improved upon what their first album gave us back in 2018. Not only do the band feel more confident in their ability to play and write but, their ability to play alongside each other comes off as much more refined and coordinated. The Black Mouth Of Sepulchre is a frantically paced and ravenous record that still manages to feel concisely and tightly under control by all members of the band. I came away from this record feeling like I could have still listened to another half of their total tracks all over again, it certainly left me wanting much more from Sulphurous and especially if this is the calibre of songwriting we now destined to receive from the band in the coming future. A seething and pulsing diorama in manifestation of the loathing void, The Black Mouth Of Sepulchre is a record by a newer band that is to be equally feared, and revered