It seems an age since 2016’s At the Onset of Extinction, but we are now treated to some new material from Sepulchral Curse. Well, I’m pleased to report that the wait has been worth it. Featuring members of Solothus, (including their impressive singer), Only Ashes Remain contains 45 minutes of blackened death metal that will surely be one of the year’s death metal highlights.
The songs are formed around an old-school death metal base that combines Scandinavian groove with grim Finnish atmosphere. Around this kernel of heaviness are built additional structures sculpted from the materials of raw blackened darkness and murky doom malevolence. The end result is a collection of songs that are even greater than the sun of their parts, and also mimic the album artwork quite well.
The songs on Only Ashes Remain are all very well-written and constructed. Each offers the listener a veritable masterclass in darkly heavy extremity. Sepulchral Curse have clearly refined their songwriting skills at this point, and these tracks are testament to a band that really, really know their stuff.
Snarling grooves and visceral blast beats explode out of the speakers with forceful power. Macabre melodies add expressive layers to the crushing music, and leads and solos are played with emotion and skill. There’s an apocalyptic atmosphere that settles over you as you listen and absorb these songs; Sepulchral Curse sound like the end times given a monstrous voice.
Speaking of monstrous voices, the singer’s immense death growls are as impressive as ever; I really do rate his voice very highly. Piercing screams are also used occasionally, which are notable in their intensity, (the band’s drummer is also credited with vocals, so I assume these are performed by him?).
Overall this is an incredibly strong release, one that delivers a blackened death metal feast of tasty treats. I urge you to not pass this one by.