Review 1846 : Horrendous – Ontological Mysterium – English

It has taken Horrendous five years to bring us their fifth album.

Created by Damian Herring (vocals/guitar), Matt Knox (vocals/guitar, The Silver) and Jamie Knox (drums, The Silver) in 2009 in the USA, the band hired in 2016 Alex Kulick (bass, live for The Silver). Ontological Mysterium is released in 2023 on Season of Mist, the label that has been with them since their previous opus.

The album opens with The Blaze, a strange sort of introduction in which the musicians couple dissonant opening riffs with ghostly vocals in the background, before letting them strengthen, leading us to Chrysopoeia (The Archaeology of Dawn) and its rhythm populated by scathing leads. The band cheerfully picks between Death, Thrash and Progressive Metal to build a coherent, aggressive and heady sound that easily juggles with jerky melodies and saturated or clean vocal parts, before giving way to Neon Leviathan, which remains anchored in this strident musical complexity. The band takes advantage of a relatively high tempo to bring its energetic riffs to life before a rather sudden break, followed by a reprise of rage supported by haunting choirs, then by the dark Aurora Neoterica, an instrumental song which reveals ominous yet melodious tones. The band allows us a moment’s hesitation before Preterition Hymn takes over, reviving the vocal parts between catchy riffs with their haunting harmonics, then again integrating soothing clean vocals to match the slow rhythm, but fading away to make way for Cult of Shaad’oah and its occult sounds. The vocal parts are reminiscent of an unholy ceremony in which the leader summons demons, while the musicians struggle to provide an aggressive basis, leading into the riffs of Exeg(en)esis, which quickly set up an Old School atmosphere borrowed from dark, tortured Heavy Metal, before letting it explode into an energetic rhythm. Ontological Mysterium, the eponymous track, follows with a return to more conventional tones that are sure to benefit from the technicality and irregular, sometimes fast-paced approach, but the album draws to a close with The Death Knell Ringeth and its disquieting darkness, which the band couples with its convoluted rhythm and unexpected melodies infused with various influences.

Complexity is the watchword for Horrendous, who manage to couple an incredible amount of influences to weave more or less vivid waves of heady, surprising melodies on Ontological Mysterium. The album is incredibly rich, and will appeal to music lovers everywhere.


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