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Rending the Heavens: COSMIC PUTREFACTION - The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers Review

With this second full length, COSMIC PUTREFACTION cements itself as one of the most promising young acts in death metal.


COSMIC PUTREFACTION is the solo project of musical Renaissance man Gabriele Gramaglia (who is also the mind behind THE CLEARING PATH and SUMMIT). The sort of yawning, cosmic death metal offered by COSMIC PUTREFACTION has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, with bands like BLOOD INCANTATION, TIMEGHOUL, and CHTHE’ILIST leading the way. Perhaps the reason I like it so much is because it shares a lot in common with black metal: blast beats, reverb on absolutely everything, and an otherworldly nature being a few obvious examples. But The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers is still firmly death metal at heart. The vocals are low, indiscernible growls almost without exception, and the riffs bear more in common with the angular, technically-proficient likes of MORBID ANGEL than they do with, say, DARKTHRONE or IMMORTAL.

With song names like This Landscape Sublimates Oblivion to Obliteration and The Glooming Murk of his Telluric Shrieks, coupled with the fantastic album art courtesy of Nox Fragor Artworks, it’s made quite obvious that COSMIC PUTREFACTION is intentionally trying to conjure an inhuman, inhospitable atmosphere. And he fully succeeds in doing so. The overall vibe on this record is suffocating and unrepentant, not unlike the void of space. There’s nothing friendly or amenable to human life in these compositions. The only thing awaiting within is lightning fast drumming, unearthly vocals, and riffs that sound like planets colliding - but, you know, in a structured way. I could keep the effusive metaphors coming, but you all know what death metal sounds like, and if you like death metal you’ll like this.

Of course, this record isn't without dynamism. We’re given some time to breathe and reflect on the maelstrom we’re about to be tossed back into about halfway through the track Abysmal Resonance Projection, when a calming ambient passage manages to break its way through before being interrupted and eventually overtaken completely by a mid-tempo riff rising from the calm like a black hole looming in the distance. Additionally, the beginning of Utterance of the Fall of Man also offers a soothing piano line coupled with light strings that really adds an ominous vibe to the final track on this record. It’s this attention to atmosphere-building that makes this record so much more than just a collection of riffs strung together. The six tracks on The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers all feel fully and intentionally cohesive, in a way that nine or ten three-minute songs most likely wouldn’t have.

If I may end on a slightly mixed note, I think the biggest reason this record succeeds right out of the gate is that it isn’t intentionally trying to sound like anything else. It’s obviously death metal, and great death metal at that, but there’s no explicit homage, no easily identifiable band whose sound COSMIC PUTREFACTION is riffing off of (pun reluctantly intended). Many newer death metal bands (I will, of course, not be dropping names, because that’s not the point and also I like the bands I’m alluding to anyway) are *insert wildly popular ‘90s band*-worship, and that’s fine. It’s wonderful to keep the old school spirit alive, but it’s also nice to have some fresh blood creating some fresh music and adding a healthy dose of vibrancy and progression to the scene.

So…fans of death metal new and old, take note: the newest offering from COSMIC PUTREFACTION is bound to be right up your alley. The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers drops May 22 on I, Voidhanger Records. Preorder your copy HERE.

Cover art by Nox Fragor Artworks


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