July 26, 2017

Azarath - In Extremis

By Bryan Camphire. Spending time with a work of art, such that you become intimately acquainted with it, can sometimes turn into an obligation. You become compelled to tell people about it. For me, In Extremis by Azarath is just such a record.
By Bryan Camphire.

Artwork by Marta Promińska (Hypnagogic Painting).

Spending time with a work of art, such that you become intimately acquainted with it, can sometimes turn into an obligation. You become compelled to tell people about it. For me, In Extremis by Azarath is just such a record. I need to tell you why, over time, this is becoming one of my favorite death metal records of this year.

On the surface, the record might seem ordinary at a first listen. Azarath are not trying to reinvent the wheel. This music seems to exist outside of trends. Nothing is done to obfuscate their metal through atmosphere. Studio trickery is not an issue here. There is very little ornamentation: the songs are evil in and of itself. They play this stuff live as is. It’s living breathing death.

However, a casual listen to In Extremis might feel cheapened when you are told that the drummer plays in Behemoth. But make no mistake, Azarath does not play second fiddle to their gigantically more popular sibling. Rest assured, you are unlikely to see this band playing at an arena named after a car company. Azarath is uncompromising. Delivering on the promise of this album title, their breed of death metal is truly extreme.

The record is ferocious from front to back, and yet, the amount of nuance on display is enough to keep a listener guessing. The threat this record presents is both in your face and hidden in plain sight, like a deadly serpent you expect will poison you but ends up crushing you to death instead. The menace they create is as immediate as it is crafty and sinister.

Azarath take something as seemingly innocuous as tempo and turn it into a weapon. The drums push. The guitars pull. They almost sound like they are playing two slightly different tempos simultaneously. This is how they create nerve-wracking tension and maintain it throughout the entirety of In Extremis. These Polish death metal stalwarts have been at it for the better part of two decades, and their sophisticated approach to songcraft is on full display on this record.

The finer points of In Extremis revealed themselves to me with repeated listens over the course of several months as Azarath kept me coming back for more. Up-tempo death metal can often seem by-the-numbers; over all such records can sound overly polished and scrubbed squeaky-clean. By contrast, Azarath fight dirty. In extremis is a kick to the nether regions of metal delivered with steel-toed boots. It’s dizzying and it floors you.

Tagged with 2017, Agonia Records, Azarath, black metal, Bryan Camphire, death metal
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