|Artwork by Krag from Paroxsihzem|
I don't usually go out of my way these days to pick up more boundary-pushing blackened death metal. My attitude is, "Well, I've got some Portal albums, so I'm all set here." And yet, sometimes a little something interesting sneaks through and asks for attention. Enter Paroxsihzem.
Paroxsihzem's last full length was featured here by Mr. Sunyata. His description of that album as "astoundingly heavy at any speed" featuring "bulbous riffs" and "incomprehensibly irate vocals" also fits their new EP, Abyss of Excruciating Vexes. To me, the band's riff-craft is what really holds my attention. Yes, they're chaotic, diving through and around each other, overlapping pure crunch with dissonant stabs, but in a way, they're surprisingly digestible. (This is all relatively speaking, of course.) The lurching opening riff of "BZ Experiment" could be from any quality sludge album, or at least it could before it fractures into a grinding pulse that seems to be coming in and out of phase with reality. But even so, it never fully abandons that straight-ahead, meaty feel from the intro, and that makes all the difference between interesting composition and "Well, I don't really care where my riffs start or where they end. I make my music for the pure forces of dark and chaos, not for the enjoyment of lowly humans!"
If anything, this EP sounds even heavier and murkier than the self-titled, and how you feel about that highly depends on what you value from this kind of music. Personally, I liked that the riffing was further out front on Paroxsihzem, on almost equal footing with the vocals. Abyss of Excruciating Vexes finds the vocals more in front while the guitars are pushed back into the cavern a bit--a bit too far back in my ears' opinion. I think they deserve to be more prominently showcased, and in fact, I think a more balanced mix like on Portal's Vexovoid would serve Paroxsihzem well. But to be fair, what's lost in clarity certainly adds to the suffocating atmosphere, and that has its appeal as well. Come for the riffing, or come for the smothering heaviness, but either way, Abyss of Excruciating Vexes is worth a listen.