Helmsplitter - Enraptured by Suffering
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Death / Thrash Metal
11 songs (42' 28")
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Andy

If one was looking for an evolutionary link showing the transition from increasingly harsher thrash metal to the brutality of death metal, the newest release from Illinois-based thrashers Helmsplitter would have been a good candidate if it had been released in the 80s. While not breaking any particularly new ground, Enraptured by Suffering seamlessly blends a wide array of thrash riffs with a heaping dollop of death metal vocals and a tiny pinch of doom, and their sound combines the the genres gracefully.

The first track, Tyrants for Blood doesn't remind me of either death or thrash, though; with the ringing, distorted guitar, I actually thought of Inquisition. Vocalist Blakk provides death metal vocals with more of a hoarse bark than the much-lampooned "cookie monster" growl, a little like Vader's Piotr Wiwczarek. Panzram is short, but the guitar on it is crunchingly relentless and I especially enjoyed the lyrics on this one, a mixture of despair and defiance. Burden of Our Existence is another standout; it's clear that the best music on this album comes when the music is slower and doomier than when they're in full death metal mode -- Dance of the Heretic, accordingly, seems merely an also-ran by comparison to tracks like World So Wicked, which changes rhythms several times to the background rattling of Nate Boyd's drum kit. One can't fail to notice how nicely his blastbeats and drum fills are mixed in with the guitar and bass, giving the riffs of the guitar, especially on the palm-muted sections, a lot more animation than they would otherwise have.

The shortness of these tunes, in this one and others, plays in the band's favor much in the way a punk or grindcore album's might; the band gets to try many different things over the course of the album. And given how easy it might be to make a series of cookie-cutter songs, they put some significant effort into giving their tracks some uniqueness. The Ground Bleeds Sorrow, for example, has a Southern stoner-doom/blues vibe to it, even with the thrash beat and death metal vocals, and at the end of the song, there is a guitar solo in a similarly bluesy vein, a rare event on this album. The final track, Summon the Leeches, is subterranean and hollow, straightforward death metal that ends abruptly, cut off as if a switch was flipped.

Enraptured by Suffering is a solid album that provides enough uniqueness to remain fairly interesting throughout its length. Death metal fans will probably like it more than thrash fans, but it's worth checking out in either case.

Killing Songs :
Panzram, Burden of Our Existence, World So Wicked, The Ground Bleeds Sorrow
Andy quoted 76 / 100
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