We’re witnessing the future being shaped here. Tomorrow, November 3rd, Sentient Ruin will uncover a passageway to a new dimension of “bestial metal” with the release of the Knots of Abhorrence the mind-opening debut album from German black/death metal horde Ch’Ahom, which we’re stoked to reveal in full for the first time today, behold:
Forget everything you knew about the genre so far, it’s out the window. Or better, it is no longer only about what you thought it to be. Where once lay the simplistic low-hanging fruits of blasphemous animalistic instinct of destruction and violence for violence’s sake as centerpieces, now instead rises a pillar of mesmerizing inventiveness and boundless ambition projecting skyward, and a new vision and interpretation of the bestial war metal craft that has risen from the ashes of its own stagnation, often denying it in its simplistic immobility. A vision in which technicality, artistry, songwriting, atmosphere, compositional ambition, and progressive unpredictability have taken the driving seat and everything else has been relegated to the spectator back seat.
We could easily start from the cover art here, to begin describing the unconventional genius of Knots of Abhorrence… Do you see the black, red and white artwork with a Baphomet and bullet belts? Nope, and frankly speaking, we may as well stop seeing that entirely at some point, there is a lot more to be achieved, said, and explored in extreme metal than that… If you look at the cover art of “Knots of Abhorrence” by German painter Alexander Kavtea (please take note of this guy, we beg you), you won’t even guess what style of music this album is at all, it could be anything, but that’s not the point. The point is that despite being genre-non-specific and highly cryptic, it also applies beautifully to the band’s ambitious quest for change and transformation, offering a breadth of mesmerizing cues on the destruction and intensity the music holds, but presenting it visually in unconventional ways.
Musically we’re dealing with something of unusual and towering inventiveness. Of black/death metal from the school of Blasphemy and Beherit filtered through the surreal and even nerdy lens of shapeshifting death metal bands like Demilich and Timeghoul, and stretched into time-dilating, progressive lengths shrouded in apocalyptic hallucinations. Esoteric and liturgic atmospheres from pre-columbian Mesoamerica (gorgeously presented by the band’s study and performance of traditional tribal instruments) lend themselves to a deathless ritual of annihilation and to the evocation of times, practices, and places in which gruesome death and bloodshed in the name of the supernatural defined societies and empires. The press release talks about 70’s UK prog bands like Yes and Camel being a huge influence on the band and that may be a head-scratching piece of info to piece this whole dazzling puzzle together, but the more you look at it, the more you see it, and as you begin to notice the serpentine pace the songs assume with long and winding progressions and epic instrumentals often stretching into the eight-minute mark, you soon begin the realize the scope and ambition of the work.
A final note on my personal experience with getting to know this band. “Knots of Abhorrence” astonishingly brought back in me teen memories of first hearing Nile’s “Black Seeds of Vengeance” and its ambitious objective of transforming death metal into an adventurous mind weapon. It was unusual to see a death metal band from Florida base its entire repertoire on such unusual and exotic “archeological” themes like ancient Egypt, something that made them to my eyes highly intriguing and original, almost akin to a “Dead Can Dance of death metal” of sorts. In the same way, Ch’ahom has unearthed such a frenzied curiosity in me, in seeing a bestial black/death metal band from Germany lend their creativity to transporting the listener into a fascinating and imagination-expanding world we far-too-less know, appreciate or understand.