Album Review: Horrendous - Ontological Mysterium

Album Review: Horrendous - Ontological Mysterium

Horrendous's fifth studio album Ontological Mysterium will be released Friday, August 18th 2023 via Season of Mist.

Horrendous have always been absolutely intent on pushing the boundaries of death metal throughout their tenure and their fifth studio album Ontological Mysterium is no different. The cool thing about this band is that they play what they want, how they want even if that means they take a wander in to the domains of psychedelic progressive weirdness coupled with intensely brutal death metal with a slight nod to the likes of Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate.

Drummer Jamie Knox says of the record and of the track 'Exeg(en)ensis' in particular:

“We just hit record on someone’s iPhone during the jam and realized that we had ‘composed’ something that felt like a song, but with a very specific, lively energy. Something that still feels like Horrendous, but almost from a different vantage point. We crafted the song’s basic structure from the jam’s ideas, filled in a few gaps, and made an effort to inject some of that spontaneity during the recording process.”
"Surprises always come up during writing — spontaneous ideas pull you into new territory and enable the realisation of novel possibilities that previously were inaccessible.”

'The Blaze' opens the record slowly with precise guitars and almost chant-like, whispering vocals before ascending in to the upper echelons of epic duel guitar riffs and atmospheric power. However it quickly charges forward with 'Chrysopoeia (The Archaeology of Dawn)' with frantic riffage, pummeling drums, funky heavy basslines, intricate solos and rasping thrashy vocals interspersed with soaring gothic-melodic cleans. A definite homage to the "bombastic spirit of heavy metal from the ’80s and early ’90s" as stated by guitarist and backing vocalist Matt Knox. 'Neon Leviathan' completely changes the mood with more funky, jazz-style basslines and absolutely insane drumming that doesn't seem to follow any kind of rhythm whatsoever with screaming vocals and proggy riffs.

Photo Credit: Scott Kinkade

'Aurora Neoterica' is an ethereal, jazz-fused instramental funk-athon lasting less than 2 minutes but it serves as an enjoyable interlude to the insanity. 'Preterition Hymn' bursts forward with high rasping vocals, chanting melodic cleans, epic riffs and a rousing atmosphere. It's not a ballad, nor is it franticly insane but it's a beautiful homage to the days of old ending on stunning acoustics. The mood changes once again with 'Cult of Shaad'oah,' an epically catchy yet devastating death metal rampage with intricately precise riffs and solos and blistering blast beats.

'Exeg(en)esis' is where the record takes a weird, trippy turn in to the proggy, psychedellic world. The riffs are otherwordly, the basslines maintain that funky edge but the vocals are sinister and demonic in nature whether they're gutteral or somewhat clean. Either way, the track is both intriguing and uncomfortable with its jarring, synthy nature; but it's actually fantastic. Following the weirdness is more weirdness with the title track but this time, it focuses more on the death metal side of things with a slight sprinkling of jarring, progressive strangeness of the previous track. The riffs are chuggy, the drums are frantic and the solos are insane. 'The Death Knell Ringeth' is straight up 90s death metal with a modern approach and a slight touch of groove which is just an absolute perfect way to close the record.

Ontological Mysterium is a wild ride. If you're looking for straight up Death Metal, this isn't it. If you're looking for an Extreme Metal record which twists and turns taking all the best elements of anything extreme with distorted vocals and absolute catchy chaos, prepare to have your mind blown to pieces.

Rating: 8/10
Release Date: August 18th 2023
Released By: Season of Mist
FFO: Death, Pestilence, Morbid Angel


01 - The Blaze
02 - Chrysopoeia (The Archaeology of Dawn)    
03 - Neon Leviathan
04 - Aurora Neoterica      
05 - Preterition Hymn
06 - Cult of Shaad'oah          
07 - Exeg(en)esis          
08 - Ontological Mysterium
09 - The Death Knell Ringeth


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