Released: 2014, Profound Lore Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Indianapolis quintet Coffinworm take seemingly disparate elements and mash them together by sheer brute force on their ominous, and sometimes unsettling, second full-length. The overall sonic palette here runs the doom/sludge/death/black metal gamut, with imposing industrial overtones scattered about just for the hell of it, with a heavy presence of some or all on every track. And that's “heavy” literally and figuratively - regardless of the tempo, the music nearly always is presented in an enveloping wall of cascading riffs and concussive drums.
IV.I.VIII gets off to a propulsive start with “Sympathectomy.” Opening with frontman Dave Britts shrieking “Diiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee” – or something to that effect, clarity often takes second fiddle to rabid-dog ferocity here - and a locomotive rumble of bass and percussion, it races right along with persistent shrill bursts of guitar before gradually slowing to an eerie plod. “Instant Death Syndrome” twists things around with its slow, ponderous pace punctuated by brief death metally spasms.
“Black Tears” emerges with four minutes of shuddering doom before the pace quickens over Todd Manning's almost funky heaving bass lines that provide the only moments of anything approaching levity here. “Lust Vs. Vengeance” is really the only track that settles into a groove – albeit it a slow, almost funereal one - and sticks with it, at least until the final minute or so.
“Eating Disorders and Restraining Orders” is the freakiest and most disturbing of IV.I.VIII's six tracks, which is saying something, with its creepy, profane voice-over mid-song, constant gritty wash of feedback and Britts' schizoid vocal tantrums. The brisk, commanding closing track, “A Death Sentence Called Life,” roils with black metal riffery, yet ends with the strains of an acoustic guitar attempting to claw its way out of the morass.
It's a hint of beauty on an otherwise profoundly ugly album, which I suppose is better than nothing.