The 2014 Arsies: January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

Welcome back to Week Four of the Arsies. We're at the halfway mark, and at the end of our first round of eliminations. And it's an ugly end indeed.
Death metal veterans Suffocation start us off with Pinnacle Of Bedlam, and it's clear from the very immediate start of the album that they haven't softened or slowed their approach at all since the start of their storied 25-year career. The first few tracks re-establish their virtuosic prowess and discordant strength, doling out satisfying technical death, their sound more vintage than dated. But the real surprise appears about halfway through the album: on songs like Sullen Days and the title track, the band give some room to more melodic aspirations. After that, the album capitulates to the band's more straightforward and challenging roots.
Stomach Earth meets that challenge with an eponymous debut album. Instead of wave after wave of technical savagry, Stomach Earth is an inundation of threnodies, cinematic in scope like Isis at the height of their powers, or the soundtrack to a spaghetti western gone horribly, horribly wrong. The whole album is so sublimely and unwaveringly heavy, but more than that, it binds up the listener with a tempo and atmosphere that equally threatens acceleration and devolution, delivering neither. What's left is a compelling stasis, an experiment in purgatory that successfully invites multiple cathartic listens. And with that, the one-man band that is Stomach Earth defeats Suffocation.
You made it through the qualifying round! Tomorrow, we level up, with the Round of 16. Kicking that off are Misery Signals and Gorguts.

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