Reviewed: November 2021
Released: 2021 Temple of Mystery Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Old school death metal from Quebec. And pretty much all en Francais. Cest-ce bien? Mais oui.
Sorry for the high-school French, but in any language the third album from Quebec City’s Outre-Tombe is putain de génial. And by that I mean “fucking awesome.”
Throwbacky albums are always a dicey proposition, either reeking of mere mimicry or favoring aesthetic and “authenticity” over soul – and in many cases all of the above. But while Outre-Tombe – or “Beyond The Grave” in ‘Murican – certainly pay homage to the stampeding grind of vintage Bolt Thrower and the nastiest bits of Possessed, Autopsy and Slowly We Rot-era Obituary on Abysse Mortifère (or “Death Abyss”), they put their own stamp all over everything here and deliver it with steely conviction and zeal.
The album just plain rips. It’s nine songs and nearly 40 minutes of raw, unbridled death metal without a hint of pretense. Once the suitably creepy intro to the title track plays out, Outre-Tombe “let it fucking loose,” to borrow from Metallica’s “Whiplash.” That drummer Nicolas Gagné goes by “Vitesse” – or speed – is fitting, given his relentless battery and the band’s frantic pace.
And while his clanging, garbage can-lid snare drum eerily recalls that of Lars Ulrich’s on Metallica’s infamous St. Anger, it hardly matters here as its fits right in with the album’s freewheeling, unpolished production. The sound on Abysse Mortifère is ragged and cavernous, almost bootleg quality, but it gives the music a live feel and immediacy that makes it all the more vicious and exhilarating, especially when you factor in Martin “Désastre” Paquet and Steve “Cobra” Force’s galloping riffs and the heaving almost breakdowny hooks on “Tombeau de Glace,” “Haut et Court” and elsewhere.
Bassist Fred “Crachat” Tremblay’s breathy, croaking vocals can be something of an acquired taste, but like the snare drum clatter, they work just fine within the confines of Outre-Tombe’s rabble. Indeed, with the French lyrics only making things that much more inpenetrable to anyone who doesn’t speak the language, Tremblay’s delivery turns his voice into another instrument to beef up the band’s already considerable heaviness, a la John Tardy on Obituary’s earliest work.
Add the garish, grotesque cover art from Matt “Putrid” Carr, and Outre-Tombe offer up the total old school death metal package with Abysse Mortifère. And just in time for Halloween. How approprié.