Released: 2014, Bastardized Recordings
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Germany's Ichor get all of their death metal ducks in a row with their third album: rad, creepy, Lovecraft-inspired cover art, equally creepy Lovecraftian lyrical themes - though they get somewhat lost in the mix - and a punishing soundtrack that wisely emphasizes brute force and brawn over theatricality.
Depths is mostly about intensity. After the suitably eerie, though rather brief intro “Deep Rising,” the band roar to life with the savage “Apophis” that recalls bygone Morbid Angel, with just a hint of black metal in the shrill guitar effects. And they just keep blasting away from there.
Unrelenting certainly is an apt description here, as the pace rarely slows from full-on. The brooding “Where Giants Sleep,” punctuated by samples of whale cries a la Gojira, and “Desire of the Depth” favor a mid-tempo churn where drummer Dirk busies himself with ample fills over Daniel and Jo's lock-step riffs – apparently these guys aren't keen on last names. Other than that, Depths is awash in blast beats, strafing guitar runs and frontman Eric's flame-throwing vocals.
The album, recorded at Poland's Hertz Studio, where Behemoth, Decapitated, Vader, Hate, etc., have done some of their best work, sounds fantastic. The full, beefy production gives the guitars and drums a crisp, mammoth punch, while providing enough space for Eric's commanding roar, some occasional flashy solos and the fluid bass underpinnings of the man with the least evil-sounding name in metal - Norb!
Given the sheer brutality of the music, and the brashness of the presentation, the “what lurks beneath” lyrical sentiments tend to get overwhelmed and what seems like an intriguing storyline is lost amid the bluster. But it could also just be so much “call of Cthulhu” mumbo jumbo – especially since one track is titled “Cthulus Sons” - so I'll give the brutality the benefit of the doubt here. And Depths is an impressive, if overpowering, effort as it is.