Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms (Redefining Darkness Records)

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019
Rating: 8.5/10

Doing their best to keep on a recording schedule with new releases every eighteen months, Sentient Horror are a New Jersey band living for the original Swedish / European death metal scene of the early to mid-1990’s in terms of a style. Their second full-length Morbid Realms continues to provide listeners with killer riffs and melodic runs against the aggression and atmosphere that will harken back to the golden era of Entombed, Grave, Dismember – plus some offshoots like Edge of Sanity, Bolt Thrower, and Gorefest.

Creating a wall of sound that combines sinister tremolo picking, start/stop transitions, and tempos that can go from semi-blasting measures to pounding doom/death at the drop of a hat – the musicians on hand understand that the tools and technique don’t mean a thing if you can’t develop memorable songs. Fortunately the ten tracks on this record provide plenty of jaw-dropping passages that slice to the bone – check out the chainsaw crunch and mid-tempo grooves throughout “Bound to Madness” or the foreboding gloom and swift interjecting of guitar melodies within “Loss of Existence” to know that this is pure driving death with proper balance and hooks abound. As guitarists Matt Moliti and Jon Lopez fill their HM-2 powered sound through magnificent twin evil rhythms and offshoots that punishes and obliterates while being musically attractive – “Reanimated” and the title track two examples of setting the mood through combinations of doom, death, and traditional nuances that cause explosive headbanging or fist propulsion maneuvers. Matt as a singer has the right clarity and growling nature that doesn’t diminish his horror-themed lyrics (H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker favored authors that inspire many songs) – using a mix of Dan Swanö and L-G Petrov for references to his phrasing and delivery.

Even as the band is between permanent drummers, the programming aspect has been given careful thought to be as close to the real thing as possible. Morbid Realms isn’t just a tribute to the old school sound – as it contains enough rich hooks and textures to hopefully gain appeal with a wider array of death metal followers. Sentient Horror prove that even the US scene has plenty left in the tank to deliver, raising hair follicles on end and savagely tearing limbs while losing minds to the metal in the process.

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