Title: Into The Catacombs
Release Date: March 9, 2018
I'm a sucker for killer artwork. I'm quite partial to the 'blind buy' based on the cover art I'm presented with. So as far as New Jersey Brutal Death/Thrash/Grinders Strychnia is concerned, I would snap this - their second full length - up in an instant! Just look at that fucking cover! Fortunately for Strychnia, the art work is not the only mind blowing element of 'Into The Catacombs'. Quite simply, this album slays!! Formed in August of 2009 as a five piece, a couple of demos and debut album in 2011 and an EP in 2013, Strychnia now return as a three piece, with what is easily their most accomplished effort yet. This is staggeringly good. From the clear, crushing guitar production, to the relentless double bass drum patterns and sophisticated lead work, not to mention Kevin O'Laughlin's scathing vocal delivery, fans of extreme death metal/Grind and aggressive tech-thrash will find plenty to lose their minds over on this album.
The most impressive aspect about Strychnia's sound is that among a cast of thousands peddling the same method, they are able to offer up their own 'take' on the style without becoming too much of an outlier. Clearly their broad multitude of influences from classic metal riffage to mid tempo thrash to blinding grind blast beats has allowed them to develop a sound that stands out from the rest.
However, as massive as Strychnia come across, the piece de resistance of their whole sound is 'melody'. For me, this means it has soul! The very thing that this genre is derided for a lack of! From the outset of the opening title track, there is strong melodic element woven throughout. To this end, it's the catchiest Death/Thrash album i've heard in quite some time. The left and right channel riff interplay helps with this, as does the incredibly tasteful lead work that is laced tightly within the structure of every track. Brilliant work!
Another great feature of Strychnia's work is that they know when enough is enough. They know when to stop forcing an idea down a listeners throat! In this regard, Into The Catacombs and its eight tracks flies by in around 27 minutes! No fucking around. Get in. Rip heads off. Get out. I think many of their contemporaries could take a lesson from these guys. Self editing is king!
Incredbily, Strychnia is still unsigned and totally independent. W.T.F? Brilliantly produced by Bobby Torres of Freightbox Recordings, surely this album gets the nod from a suitable label. I'm staggered that they are not already! Artwork plug: That awesome collage is by Mark Cooper of "Mindrape Art". Mark is known for designing all of the artwork for Rings of Saturn. Spotting a bit of Dan Seagrave influence! So awesome! Highly recommended. 9/10 By Kroz