It’s been a long eight years since 2014’s Evolving Towards Extinction, and the band have changed their lineup since then, but Near Death Condition are finally back.
Well, it seems that over the years Near Death Condition have only become heavier and more malevolent. The guitars are absolutely crushing; tar-thick and covered in spikes, this is music made to destroy. Imagine a dark mix of Gorguts and Morbid Angel, with a pinch of Cryptopsy, and you’ll have a rough idea of how malignant and cruel this is. The riffs are frequently angular and obtuse, rich in dissonant aggression and pulverising atonal rhythms. There’s also an intricacy here in the songwriting, buried in plain sight, that could collapse were it not for the clear skill of the band.
Atop this weighty atypical foundation sit bleak otherworldly leads and an atmospheric delivery that would be at odds with such involved, brutal, music, were it not for the fact that it fits the destructive core of the music so well. Indeed, these mood-based elements are intrinsically embedded into the heart of what Ascent from the Mundane is all about; this is intelligently-crafted death metal that is walking its own path to the apocalypse.
I haven’t mentioned the vocals yet; these are among some of the unique you’ll hear this year on a death metal record. The singer sounds inhuman and unhinged, and his delivery is somehow intimately connected to the music, while also being detached from it and therefore allowed to do its own thing. His voice is impressively monstrous and surprisingly diverse. I can also imagine it being quite divisive among those that might favour a more traditional delivery.
Ascent from the Mundane is a powerful, engaging work. It has exceeded my expectations in terms of complexity, quality, and atmosphere. This is non-standard death metal, and all the better for it.