This year could end up being remembered by many things, but if there’s any justice in the world, one of those things will be big, groovy, stanky riffs. From the cosmic dealings of Teeth and Blood Incantation to the earth-shattering antics of Fit For an Autopsy, 2019 was filled with tones and compositions that made the most out of death metal’s predilection for mass and a feeling of unstoppable momentum. On Emanations of Desolation, Sun Worship throw themselves into contention for most filthy sound, melding their death metal underpinnings with plenty of black metal to keep things especially abrasive and overwhelming. The result is an album which hits and hits hard, constantly picking at your ears with bigger and bigger chords.
To make sure we stay attentive, Sun Worship also throw in plenty of compositional antics, like repeating riffs and themes. On the first three proper tracks of the album, “Void Conqueror”, “Devoured”, and the amazingly named “Torched Reversed”, a main riffs reoccurs throughout. It is first introduced on “Void Conqueror”, ringing in from the beginning of the track. Here it is at its most blackened, furious chords blending with alarming speed into the break-neck blastbeats that up the background of the track. The vocals, guttural and low, add to the otherworldly and oppressive feeling of the track, making “Void Conqueror” a powerful and resolute opening salvo to the trio of tracks. In the middle of the track we can hear the first permutation of the main riffs, breaking in for a bar or two, before the track continues its onslaught. This permutation returns on “Devoured”, about one minute and a half in. Here, it doesn’t stick around for two bars but rather informs most of the track’s approach to the riff. Things are still blackened but a fair deal of groove has been introduced into the mix.
By the time “Torch Reversed” comes back to this common riff, around the six minute mark, things are already in high heat. The drums become more agile, gilding their main expression with plenty of cymbal work. The riff then mutates into the crescendo of the track, bringing back the black metal influences and ushering off this trio of punishingly accurate tracks. These permutations and tweaks of the same riff and its role within the different tracks keeps us hooked and attentive, our ears perking at the “strange familiar”, something we know but can now hear in a different setting. Nor does the album let up on this idea from there; whether on the epic “Coronation” or the somewhat more droning “Soul Harvester”, Emanations of Desolation is all about the intricacies of what lies beneath and what can be gleaned from between the abrasive, bleak, and aggressive exterior of the track’s structure.
The fact that the album also manages to be unbelievably heavy at the same time as its makes these more elaborate gestures is perhaps the album’s most endearing quality. It means the album serves a dual purpose: like many of the death metal albums of 2019, it can be listened to first for its complexity and arrangement, playing interesting games with the basic formula of its genre. But it can also be consumed as a more “straight up” experience, scratching that itch that only the most pronounced, heavy, and unapologetic death metal can scratch. Whether you’re looking to sink into a rich musical tapestry or just feel the power of well made metal coursing through your veins, add Emanations of Desolation to your rotation. You won’t regret it.
Emanations of Desolation was released on October 18th. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above to buy it.