As drummer with Behemoth, Zbigniew Robert Promiński certainly earned his nom de guerre “Inferno” from the explosive double-bass/blast-beat tempos and fusillade fills that have powered the band’s blackened death metal for going on 20 years. Lesser known, though no less incendiary, has been the work he’s done for just about as long with fellow Polish death metallers Azarath.
Taking a more blunt object approach when compared to Behemoth’s finesse and majesty, Azarath’s full-frontal death metal is akin to Deicide or Krisiun – though with some Immolation-like dexterity – with Inferno’s rivet-gun back beats driving the music relentlessly forward. In Extremis is most a fitting title for the band’s sixth album, and first in six years. Its foundation is built on extreme aggression and it just keeps coming at you from the furious opening notes of “The Triumph of Ascending Majesty” on.
The steady barrage of guitar from Bart and frontman Necrosodom – speaking of classic death metal monikers – is as vicious and merciless as Inferno’s drumming here, with blackened tremolos playing off slashing hooks and snarling solos at breakneck speed. “The Slain God” is one notable exception, as Azarath slow to a steady gait and build sonic drama for something that comes close to echoing Behemoth’s grandeur – especially during its spoken/shouted word passage near the end.
But the gritty production and Necrosodom’s feral growl ensure the brutality hardly wanes, and the band steps right back on the gas again with “At the Gates of Understanding,” which is festooned with Inferno’s Gatling-gun drum rolls. Same goes for “Parasu Blade,” which shows the drummer at his most athletic. And the momentum only continues to build from there, with Necrosodom’s vocals growing more agitated and grinding riffs threatening to become a blur.
By the time things come to a close, I suppose fittingly, with “Death” one feels somewhat battered and rather exhausted from the experience, thanks to the unadulterated brutality and white-knuckle velocity. Indeed, while there are plenty of crafty riffs and caterwauling leads scattered about, Azarath’s near constant attack mode makes In Extremis seem a bit single-minded over its 40-minute run time. But the album certainly delivers what the title promises, so there.
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