Horrified  – Of Despair


Death metal with a Tyneside twist

Review by Paul Castles

Stormspell Records

Release date: 25 March 2016

Horrified hail from the north east of England and play a gritty brand of death metal that seems to possess more filth and guts than a hospital cleaner. This is their second full length release following the 2014 offering Descent Into Putridity.

Of Despair is similarly spartan in its approach when it comes to sophistication, as Horrified messily go for the jugular with this feisty, feral attack. Opening number ‘Palace of Defilement’ has a gentle enough intro but a few buzzsaw guitar licks signal the predictable onslaught.

Singer Dan Alderson has a suitably gruff style although at times it does have a tendency to get lost behind a chaotic whirlwind of riffs and drums, the latter just a little tinny in certain places. There’s also a mid-track solo to contend which just dilutes the hostility levels although a closing breakdown section tidies things up nicely at the end.

Horrified keep up the pace with the following couple of songs, both of which are spiker than a barbed wire fence, before the arrival of ‘Funeral Pyres’ signals a distinct and surprising shift in musical direction. Not only does it feature some shockingly clean singing but it also travels on for around eight minutes.

Horrified new band picture

They certainly wouldn’t have tried such a radical move on Descent Into Putridity but it’s clear the Tyne terrors now possess the confidence to diversify into a more melodic area from the standard death metal fare.

The intro is chunky and filthy and when Alderson’s lungs open up it feels as though this is going to be one of the album’s best tracks. The clean singing section arrives in the final minute when some mellow harmonies are layered on top of the riff as the track spirals gently to a close.

Before the shock of this smooth section has hit you, Horrified are back to their brutal best with ‘Amidst the Darkest Depths’ which has a pounding intro and coldness about it that steps towards doomier rather than plain old death. A scything riff again briefly casts a calming influence before one final blood curdling push to the line.

On ‘Dreamer of Ages’, Horrified again slow things down and the tempo change works well, with the melodies given time to develop and gradually leave their imprint. The album’s title track is actually in the shape of three-minute instrumental, inoffensive but also unnecessary.

It does though leave the way clear for the final track, another eight-minute exploration, ‘The Ruins That Remain’ – almost certainly the finest of the eight tracks.

A healthy chug of a riff sets the pace and Alderson is in good gravelly voice on top. The song includes a few machinegun drum attacks and also has the maturity to take stock, breath, and then push again.

Although death metal in spirit and presentation, Horrified also offer a little bit more besides.

Horrified Of Despair artwork

6 out of 10

Track listing

  1. Palace of Defilement
  2. Infernal Lands
  3. Chasm of Nihrain
  4. Funeral Pyres
  5. Amidst the Darkest Depths
  6. Dreamer of Ages
  7. Of Despair
  8. The Ruins That Remain