Released: 2014, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Amon Amarth meets Caligula, with a side of Death, on the third full-length from Holland's Antropomorphia. Rumbling, riffy, ragged Swedish-style death metal is flavored here with equal parts macabre fantasy and sexual deviance, with the two sometimes intertwining for a lurid, occasionally disgusting - “Nekrovaginal Secretions” anyone? - but always pummeling outing.
With his throaty, commanding growl, guitarist/singer Ferry Damen is darn near a dead ringer for Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg. Only where Hegg offers epic hymns to victory on the battlefield, Valhalla and such, Damen ping-pongs between the depravity of the aforementioned “Nekrovaginal Secretions” and “Gospel ov Perversion” and the ultra-violence of “Carved To Pieces” and “Crowned in Smoldering Ash.” Both are fairly preposterous in their own way, to be sure, but where Hegg paints a picture and spins a tale, Damen seems more intent on titillation or provocation.
Regardless, Damen delivers it with authority, backed by a muscular soundtrack that takes a little time to really get going, but when it does it grinds away without mercy. The first few tracks seem stuck in a similar loping groove, punctuated by grim slow parts. “Crowned in Smoldering Ash” opts for the inverse approach, and lumbers along most of the way through.
But just when Rites ov Perversion starts spinning its wheels, the pace quickens with, yet again, “Nekrovaginal Secretions” and its vicious hooks and double-bass gallop, and the album builds some serious momentum from there – even if slower sections continue to intrude with regularity. The surging tempos of “Morbid Rites” and “Tevfelskvnst” give Damen and Jos van den Brand's bonesaw guitars some extra grit and oomph to conclude things with a flourish of unbridled brutality and make for the perfect lead-in to a faithful cover of the Death classic “Open Casket.”
“Open Casket” is a spot-on choice for a cover here as its fast-slow-fast construction fits the feel of much of the material on Rites and the band play it straight, instead of offering their own “interpretation” of the song. It makes for a fitting and ferocious tribute, and a fine ending.