Okay, seriously, what the hell is in the water in Sweden? I have one idea… thall. Death metal bands from the Scandinavian country seem to know something the rest of us don’t when it comes to death metal and all its related styles. Orecus, the 4-piece death metal outfit, must be drinking that water by the gallon.
Originally founded 2011, then relaunched in 2020, Orecus has taken the time to sculpt themselves into an intimidating force. One EP was released in 2016, labelled “Conclusion”, and was a diligent yet ultimately bare-bones approach to a mix of deathcore and death metal. What has now been thrust in our faces, is a giant step in a promising direction. “The Obliterationist”, the band’s 10-track debut album, was released in March this year, and it seems the album title is a great description for their area of expertise.
The album is impressive for a debut, to say the least. It must, however, be said straight out of the gate that it doesn’t bring anything new or pioneering to the proverbial metal table. With that being said, it is most certainly a welcome addition to what already exists, being the new wave of modern death metal that seems to be proliferating itself quite steadily across the music scene. It’s important to mention again that the band relaunched only last year, so it could be argued that the band went back to square one to create what we hear now. In that short amount of time, it’s commendable. “The Obliterationist” is polished, with a tight production that one would expect from artists that have been actively honing their craft for years. As a result, I was surprised to see that the band had just over 1,000 followers on their social media sites at the time of writing this review. With how this album sounds, I don’t think this is going to be the case for them for much longer.
Riddled with groovy slams, punishing breakdowns and some truly evil blast beat sequences, the album is nothing short of an assault from front to back. It has this imposing and dread-filled density about it, like the Death Star looming over planets, before completely annihilating them. Beginning with the title track “The Obliterationist”, it’s immediately clear that the band isn’t messing around. Everything about the mix is aggressive, and you are very rarely given a chance to rest your neck. As a whole, the dark and overbearing heaviness of the album is similar to fellow Swedish band Humanity’s Last Breath, and this could definitely be attributed to the re-amping, mixing and mastering honours being carried out by none other than Odeholm Audio founder Buster Odeholm, a member and driving force of Humanity’s Last Breath and Vildhjarta.
“The Obliterationist” is unapologetically animalistic. “The Destruction Path” begins with such ferocity that it made me want to smash open a watermelon with my forehead, or something of similar aggression… The introduction reminds me a lot of the kind of bouncy riffs one would hear in an Emmure track on either the “Speaker of the Dead” or “Look at Yourself” albums. Lyrically, it’s no less heavy. The songs are politically charged and cemented in nihilistic conviction, helping to accrue that overpowering sense of darkness protruding from the record.
The voice by which those lyrics are expressed is from Philip Grüning. His growls are insanely low and guttural, and of striking resemblance to Filip Danielsson of previously mentioned Humanity’s Last Breath. His high screams are equally harsh, especially throughout the track “My Manifest”, where he lets out some evil screeches. Overall, they sit right at the front of the mix and take up a lot of the listener’s attention for the majority of the album. This isn’t too big of an issue, but I did sometimes, if not rarely, find that when I wanted to focus my ears on the instruments in certain sections, I was drawn back to the vocals involuntarily. Whether they are too present in the mix, or it’s Grüning’s pronunciation assisting in your heeding of the lyrics, it’s definitely hard to get past them. I think this is less of a criticism, and more of a positive remark about Grüning’s capability as a vocalist. Of course there are some instrumental sections through “The Obliterationist”, but there are some really enjoyable moments happening behind the vocals that should be appreciated.
Some guest appearances also appear through the album, aiding in vocal versatility. Chad Kapper of Frontierer and When Knives go Skyward, as well as Frederik Söderberg of Soreption tear through their spots on “Blodvite” and “Below the Threshold” respectively.
The guitars and drums are precise and confident in their production. The opening pounding riff of “Blodvite” is testament to this, and also shows off the highly skilled drum production of Odeholm. The cymbals are bright, and help to fill out the rest of the space that the dense heaviness can’t reach. The syncopation of the china cymbal towards the blistering end of “Become the Nihilist” is a nice little treat that helps to keep things unusual and refreshing.
Reverberated tremolo layers in the guitars reinforce melodic substance when there would otherwise just be straight up neck-breaking rhythms. It feels like guitarists Elias Ryen-Rafstedt and Francis Larsson had some fun on this release. Little unpredictable progressions are thrown into tracks like “Unborn, Reborn”, showing the band isn’t afraid to switch things up here and there without warning. “Become the Nihilist”, for example, slithers along in a certain slow and heavy sequence before it suddenly jolts us back to a fast-paced riff. On that note, some of the faster deathcore-esque sections would undoubtedly sit well in a Thy Art is Murder album.
The bass also shines in some moments, with Martin Maxe providing some groovy ideations at the beginning of “Extinct”.
Lastly, the use of synth layers throughout the album is a nice touch. They sit quietly in the background of some sections, just barely audible but enough to give a sense of atmosphere to the mix. “Below the Threshold” benefits greatly from these synth layers, as does “Unborn, Reborn”, with the synth chopping through the air in time with the bass drum.
For a debut album, “The Obliterationist” is a vicious display of competence on the part of Orecus. The reformation of the band in 2020 seemed to work wonders for them, and this release is the band proving themselves as a formidable entity in the heavy music realm. In their next efforts, I would love to see them explore some more elements and branch off of their core style. Orecus has fleshed its personality out clearly on this album, and I feel that the band has so much untapped potential.
Mark my words, the next release from Orecus is going to be monstrous.
Released On: March 12th, 2021.
Released By: Violent Groove
Genre: Death Metal / Deathcore
- Philip Grüning / Vocals
- Elias Ryen-Rafstedt / Guitar
- Francis Larsson / Guitar
- Martin Maxe / Bass
“The Obliterationist” Tracklist:
- The Obliterationist
- Distress Signal
- The Destruction Path
- Below the Threshold
- Unborn, Reborn
- My Manifest
- Become the Nihilist
“The Obliterationist” sums up the band’s intention for this album. It’s unflinching in its delivery of earth-shattering material and barely, if ever, lets up. It doesn’t break any new ground, but its darkness and ferocity proves to the listener that Orecus, like a dangerous Rottweiler loose on the street, is something that you definitely shouldn’t take your attention off of.