ALBUM REVIEW: Labyrinth of Veins – Static Abyss

If you’ve been following extreme metal for a while, chances are you’re aware of AUTOPSY, California’s Death Pioneers. Often credited as influences for the likes of IMMOLATION, DECIDE and CANNIBAL CORPSEthey’re an important piece of metal history (or metal’s present, if their recent reunion is something to bet on).

In the meantime, drummer and singer Chris Reifert (also formerly of THE DEATH) and guitarist/bassist Greg Wilkinson started alone with STATIC ABYSS. The duo tapped into their legendary gore roots to produce 10 audio horror tracks in the form of Labyrinth of veins. It’s an album that “explores the echoes of madness manifested through human existence“, and with song titles such as morgue rat fever, contortion till death and you are what you killit’s safe to say that this won’t be the soundtrack to everyone’s summer barbecues.

Explode to life with Feast the eyes, there’s something distinctly old-school about the recording. There’s enough polish to bring this into the 21st century, but there are times when it feels like these records could be lost from AUTOPSYis the pinnacle of the 1990s. Low, grimy and fierce, this is pure, pure death metal. But then, after about 90 seconds, they suddenly turn into fate territory: everything slows to the end and becomes an even more ferocious beast in the process. It is an impending and repugnant performance of Weiferthis unmistakable voice continues to strike fear into the hearts of those who hear him, and STATIC ABYSSA brooding, doom iteration, it’s clear the duo’s primary goal is to create a soundtrack of abject horror.

main track jaw ritual is a particularly fearsome beast; from rapid blastbeats and frenzied energy, the song once again contorts wildly into a creeping mass of the nastiest, heaviest, breathiest riffs imaginable. It’s a track (and a band) that swings between manic styles of frenzied slasher horrors like freddieto the psychologically punitive and crushing horror of saying, Hereditary. The visual equivalent of Labyrinth of veins would watch these films one scene at a time, interchangeably.

And therein lies the problem. Watching movies like this would be maddening. This also becomes the case in music. After a while, the trick of going from death to death at breakneck speed begins to lose its hideous luster; some of the contrasts are so stark that it feels like two songs have just been merged. It’s all done to a high degree, but in terms of the sequencing and flow for an entire album, that does nothing to stop that feeling of being a compilation of recordings over the years as opposed to a single work.

For all the pedigree proposed here, Labyrinth of veins doesn’t have that vise-like bite you might expect. There’s some solid content, that’s for sure, but as an album, STATIC ABYSS‘ The first foray is not a patch Reifert and Wilkinsonis a disgusting legacy.

Rating: 6/10

Labyrinth Of Veins is available now via Peaceville Records.

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