Inverted Realm by Appalling
APPALLING, you say?! That would serve as a completely fine adjective to describe this music if you are completely out of touch with what awesome metal is, or in fact have a tremendous problem addressing the darkness of reality, or simply do not wish to have said psyche penetrated by forces of the murderous undead. I, however, will go as far as to say Appalling is just the opposite; they kick ass. The fiendishly fine folks over at Redefining Darkness Records, have in fact, done it again with another extreme metal release to be on the lookout for this year. Presenting to us a violently bold, fine-yet-complex blend of death metal by nature & black metal at heart, with undertones of the otherworldly demons and traces of gruesome murderous rampages, named none other than Inverted Realm by Appalling. And this beautiful concoction of blackened death metal comes complete with notes of surprisingly crushing riff work that permeate this intoxicating experience that is built on a full body of high intensity scathing black metal; severed piping hot for maximum flesh-searing physical effect and chainsaw-sharp mental clarity. Hailing from Richmond, VA, home of… well, it’s always good to know that blackened death metal of the utmost quality can be harvested from close to “my neck of the woods”, USA.. as the majority of the quality extreme metal these days is coming from all corners of the globe. BUT not this time, Appalling is here to claim the crown built upon the bones of the likes of Angelcorpse and Altars of Madness. Do you have what it takes to survive 30 minuted alone in the “Inverted Realm” of brutal darkness and ferocious energy? Check your white blood cell count. Aaannd… Let’s get it on.
Once bands immediately start to label themselves and/or be associated as a “crossover” type genre, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the blend black & death metal (exhibit A: blackened death metal), it can be quite daunting and often boring to listen to as very few bands actually pull this off with genuine awesomeness. More often than not, it feels like they’re just trying to capitalize on the fanbase of both genres, mindlessly splicing the two together without any real coherency, and putting out an extreme metal record for everyone to enjoy.. awwwwe. Well, NOT so fast there with Appalling. It became quite glaringly obvious during the first listen to “Inverted Realm” that this was not the case, at all. Diving headfirst into a sea of grinding razor-wire with the lead-off track “Hot Coals For Branding” I was struck not only with the immediate realization of extreme pain, but how unique and genuine sounding of a hybrid style of extreme metal Appalling has captured within this brutal maze of (torment) Inverted Realms. Taking a proudly powerful stance on the “blackened death” subject, Appalling throw down some of the most infectiously energizing and blasphemous metal from the best of both worlds. As soon as it was difficult to pin down exactly which instruments were chanting black metal and which ones were engrossed in the matter of death metal, I knew it was a special record. Which means this could be appalling (wink) to some, but a masterpiece to others (me).
Exuberantly unique yet exceptionally brutal, they work their way through this short but sweet (27 minute) record with profusely deadly intent and focus, like a calculated and devastating symphony of pain. They savagely rip through ‘ol faithful black metal guitar tremolo accompanied by beautifully brutal & unforgiving sounding snare and hellish drum patterns. Then, knowing when to harness the guitar work back, hurl it into the grimy underworld for some low and slow, Obituary-esque, puke-worthy sludge groove and return it with more triumphant and thunderous percussion workings… all before wrapping it up in a full-blown almost grindcore assault (see: Epileptic Sermon); It is well and apparent that Appalling are masters at forging they own (hot coal) branded strain of extreme metal with the best of them. They effortlessly navigate these threatening waters of death/thrash chugging at a ruthless speed, ripping and chaotic (nods to classic era heavy metal) solos, throat incinerating vocal delivery, powerful and bass-rich grooves, strikingly effective and sudden tempo changes; while, of course, shredding your worthless thoughts and prayers with each and every track. This deranged material delivered at such an alarming speed and ferocity will surely wake your ass up and leave you begging for more (no sexual puns intended, this time) and is nothing short of impressive and most importantly, interesting. As mentioned the record is quite brief, but it does seem very intently focused and purposeful, which ends up making the listening experience more effective in my humble opinion. More importantly than the latter, never for a split second was I bored or found my mind wandering to other topics such as, say, other band’s influences, or hat grotesque horror scene this could serve as a soundtrack to, or fantasies of which I cannot legally say, etc.. ANYWAY, for me, not being absent minded for a mere second of a record is just about the highest and most honest compliment I can pay to a new metal record of any variety. Appalling keep it as fresh as blackened death could possibly be. And YOU should be fucking thankful for that for once!!
As Apalling hacks its way through the final act of the record with a body count rivaling an 80’s slasher flick, “Mutilator At Large” proves to be the gory climax of the album due to not only the aforementioned horror nostalgia for me, but simply because its one hell of a song. Every instrument is on fire excreting pure hate as it works its way from being a a fist-in-the-air thrash metal tune, to a bone-breaking black metal sermon, to melodic death metal at is finest complete with some dark & jazzy guitar sections all whilst chanting “STABBING! AND STABBING!! AND STABBING!!!” I mean.. what more do you want? I just wish all blackened death / crossover bands were this killer. Not only do the walk that increasingly fine line between subgenres muscially, but also in their lyrical concepts and overall vibe of the material presented. Death metal has always been a realm that is seemingly self-aware, and dare I say fun, humorous, positively energized (saying this all relatively speaking and to a certain degree); while black metal is largely the opposite. On Inverted Realm, there is definitely some energetic, tongue-in-decaying-cheek fun to be had; conversely there is absolutely no famine in the area of seriously dark matter scraping at your psyche here, and Appalling’s ability to handle that aspect of their subgenre blending alchemy with such devilish ease is commendable.
The less-than-completely-ideal production seen within the Inverted Realm ultimately works to its favor. They secure more points in the ever-burning “black metal” aspects fo their work, enriching that dangerous and deadly atmosphere with that undeniable quality of rawness to it that I believe so many modern extreme metal records are doing themselves a grave disservices in the absence of. Not that it is a BAD production by any means, just perfect for this type of music, actually. Beware the overproduced garbage, my friends. The instrumentation is fiercely accurate and brutal, lending itself to be easily heard without sounding too perfect. The vocals of “BM” are (again) always walking on that thin ice between genres, but ultimately lends itself to forging its own path somewhere between Goatwhore, Deicide, and Bloodbath, etc… and what’s pretty cool is that you can make out pretty much all of the lyricism. I DO have mixed feelings on that particular subject, but for this record and this band it works awesomely well. As just about everything else does on this one. To say this an an essential extreme metal release of the year would be a grave understatement. It is undeniably worthy of endless replay value, it is experimental and unique to the point without it being shoved down your throat or have a saxophone on it, and it is just good ‘ol fashioned, genuine and passionate, American death metal… motherfucker.
Gym Rating: 5/5 (crush it)
Check ‘em out!!