JANUARY 12th 2017

Review by Darin Wall

Appalling Ascension is the debut EP from Portuguese death metal band The Ominous Circle.  For their first ever offering, the band serves up 8 tracks of bludgeoning death metal.  The music is uncompromisingly heavy throughout the album, the vocals are guttural and brutal, the rhythms go from fast and thrashy, to brutally heavy half time sections to full on blast beats.  The Ominous Circle aren’t out to experiment or mess around, they just play brutal death metal reminiscent of Morbid Angel, Immolation and Sulphur Aeon.

The album starts off with Heart Girt with A Serpent, which is more of an intro track than an actual song.  It’s basically death metal vocals over a few drum hits and some atmospheric music.  I get what it is, but for me it’s a bit long and I could have done without it.  Live it will be an awesome intro to the set, but it’s one I will skip on repeat listens to the album.  Next up is From Endless Chasms which kicks off with some seriously old school death metal riffage, evoking memories of the good ol days of Death and Morbid Angel.  The song is fast and chaotic, but maintains a super heavy groove throughout, with the drums transitioning from thrash style beats to blasts.  There’s a very effective simple heavy riff in the middle of the song in half time, followed by some tremolo picking riffs and double bass still in half time.  The song ends on a really cool chaotic outdo rather than reprising the first verse.  I dig this song a lot.  Poison Fumes starts off slower and heavier.  Chunkier riffs and heavy half time tremolo death metal riffs comprise most of the song, but things get chaotic at the 5:16 mark with faster riffs, blast beats and some guitar solos.  Ateg Gibor Le-Olam Adonai isa 2:41 atmospheric interlude track which set the tone and leads into A Gray Outcast.  This song starts off really fast but slows to a heavier and almost doom atmosphere.  The dynamics switch during the back half to a more chaotic feel, and I was a big fan of this section of the song.   Next up is to En, which sees the band switching from fast thrashy parts to slower heavy half time sections, and then much like the previous track switching things up for the back half of the song, which has simpler straight forward riffs, guitar solos and blast beats.  As The Worm Descends starts with a really cool atmospheric build up, followed by a super heavy slower verse.  This one just keeps the groove and the riffs heavy the whole time.  The album closes with Consecrating His Mark, which is a 10:14 death metal epic.  For me personally this song lost me a bit.  None of the parts are bad at all, I just felt it went a bit long, and that the point could have been made just as well if not better in a 6 minute song. 

Overal, Appalling Ascension has everything I like in a death metal album.  It’s brutal, heavy, chaotic and the musicianship is really good.  For a debut this is a stellar start for these guys.  I hope in future releases to hear a few more memorable riffs that stand out even more than the ones on this record, but that’s not a complaint about this one, just a hope for the future.  Fans of uncompromisingly heavy death metal like Immolation should give this a listen.