Album Review: Sentient Horror – Rites of Gore

Album Review: Sentient Horror - Rites of Gore
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Sentient Horror are, as time continues to pass, a growing Old School Death Metal force that an additional number of people are listening to and taking seriously. Having formed originally in 2014, out of Stockholm, New Jersey, under the name of Sentience where they released an EP and a Single, the band changed their name to what we now refer to them as: Sentient Horror. Almost immediately out of the gate, most likely originally planned under their first name but plans caused things to change things round, the band released their first full length album. I remember Ungodly Forms when I was first really getting into the OSDM revival that was occurring a few years ago, this record seemed to be everywhere I looked. 2018 saw the band release The Crypts Below, an EP that once more was received to high praise from fans. Then 2019 saw the band release their sophomore studio release: Morbid Realms. But its amazing how quickly time can pass, for we are now three years yet again moved on from that record and Sentient Horror are preparing to now drop their third full length release on us: Rites Of Gore. The first moment I saw this album announced I knew I needed to give it a spin. So let’s take a look and see what these guys have for us this time round.

I swear, with every record Sentient Horror churn out, they only seem to be getting faster and faster. The band are renowned for being a strong player of the OSDM revival that occurred throughout the past decade, but with each succeeding record their speed seems to only be climbing. It’s not merely that their speed is increasing, but in how that speed is continuously implied through a coarse guitar tone. The guitar work itself isn’t super muddied nor is to overtly dirty herein, but it’s been given just enough of a raw edge to help intensify what insinuations of rapidity it possesses. Slowly but surely, the band are continuing to unleash their inner beast and it may be all the more noticeable this time round.

What I particularly enjoyed was the dynamic between the two guitarists. The main riff is the primary force going into your experience of this record, but during the main riff you’ve got the secondary guitar supplying powerful and meaty strings of guitar playing that play like a lacerating blade. By deliberately disjointing their dual guitar attack, the band may have actually strengthened the malice to which they’ve become accustomed to delivering. Therefore, the band have been able to maximise the perception to speed to even greater levels because the audience is receiving two distinct guitar attacks, each of which amplifying the other’s intensity. It also ensures the audience isn’t going to experience something that’s flat or hitting solid ground with a dull thud. That secondary guitar attack basically carpets the album in an eviscerating fabric that allows us to run along it with the rest of the band in two. We still have an understanding as to where the band are taking us, so we can still feel the Earth beneath us, but the pacing and relentless energy they provide is one Sentient Horror have never delivered on so completely before.

Album Review: Sentient Horror – Rites of Gore

In many ways, the riff work manages to feel as biting as it does primarily due to how the production has enabled it to do so. In my experience with this band, Rites Of Gore may just be the lightest sounding album the band have yet produced at least where the production is concerned. Had the band leaned towards a typically heavier and bolder sounding album for their performance here, I don’t think we would have received such the malevolent and ripping aesthetic that Sentient Horror have managed to deliver here. By bringing the thickness of their production down to what they usually do, they’ve guaranteed the riffs and overall performance is much rougher and more abrasive on our senses. This isn’t the smoothed out and fat sound OSDM often sports, but something leaner where you can feel the froth foaming at the band’s mouth.

What’s more, the drums managed to really convey the effectiveness of that choice of production. Sentient Horror do away with blast beats, their style of death metal is much more along old school lines to which blast beats wouldn’t really suit. However, had they incorporated blast beats here, I doubt they’d be as prominent within the band’s sound due to how the production isn’t favouring a bolder or thicker atmosphere. But the general drumming here grabs your attention owing to how light it comes across as, they’re able to give us an energetic and fast paced performance that grabs us from start to finish without our senses being duly assaulted. On the flip side however, when the greater intensity is required, the drums implement the double bass which really manages to raise the overall soundscape to new and more destructive heights. They’re not always implemented however, so when the band make this active choice to employ them the bass drums are deeply noticeable.

In conclusion, I feel like Sentient Horror are seriously hitting their stride now. With each release they do, whether it be EP or album, they’re honing something here and refining something there. Rites Of Gore may just be their most realised record yet and the greatest offering of what they can give us as a band. More significant is this is the first time since their 2016 debut album that a Sentient Horror release features them as a four-piece band, just having that additional member really allows their sound to pop and strike at what is needed for people to pay attention to them. That band dynamic that is brought back certainly makes a difference but the production choice also works hand in hand with it too. It’s this push-pull ambience between the band’s death metal overdrive, and the insistence on a lighter and more ripping album aesthetic that gives Rites Of Gore the energy it possesses. Sentient Horror only seem to be improving and I am genuinely excited for what they may accomplish in the future. Often, by a band’s third album, fans have come to know what to expect but in the case of Sentient Horror the grandiosity has barely begun.

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