“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” – Edgar Allen Poe
I was probably just a couple years into my teens when I really started to notice how much unbridled flack many people around me gave to anything they deemed even remotely negative, “evil”, or generally dark. It was during those delicately impressionable years, that I found myself quickly transforming into a horror movie-obsessed, heavy metal-addicted, albeit significantly introverted longhair. Yes, whether it was my unabashed love of Hellraiser, Evil Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or the fact that bands like Slayer could seemingly not be removed from my cd player and/or tape deck, or the undeniable reality that my wardrobe was (and still is) 99% black, or the noticeably grim subject matter in my visual art…it seemed I gave those around me plenty of ammunition to absolutely trash talk everything I loved. But the joke was on them, because I couldn’t care less. I’m the kind of person that can indeed see beauty in what most would call “dark”, “morbid”, or “macabre.” What was shunned by some around me, was welcomed in my own heart and mind, and I continue with that mentality today.
It’s with that notion that I dove into Embrace the Dark (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions), the first full-length release of thrashing madness from southern Ohio’s very own fearsome foursome, Dismemberment. As with the band’s two previous EP’s (2011’s The Condemned and 2012’s Denied Salvation), the band’s usual nods to the likes of death metal legends Carcass and Death, as well as a few stylistic elements kindred to that of fellow death-dealing Ohioans, Skeletonwitch, are noticeable throughout. But that’s not at all to say that this is an offering of déjà vu. They’ve definitely upped the ante this time around, by way of a bit of highly-effective prog experimentalism, a considerably more focused presentation, and a sharpening of the old chops in general. Recorded with Travis Lautenschlager at Club Sandwich Studio in Columbus, Ohio, mixed by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) at Audiosiege, and mastered by Dan Randall (Ghoul) at Mammoth Sound Mastering, Embrace the Dark is a solid, raging effort from start to finish. There are some longer arrangements here, in comparison to those on the bands past efforts (see the cyclonic fury of “Archaic Wisdom” as well as “Aura of Obscurity”, with its slower-than-usual-for-this-band intro intact). Other highlights: opening track “Confess Your Flesh,” “Eye of the Keeper,” and the album-closing wrath of “Born to Consume.” The band mixes lethal precision with a ravenous rawness, resulting in nine bloodthirsty excursions into modern metal chaos that demand the attention of old and new black/death/thrash maniacs alike.
With Embrace the Dark, Dismemberment takes us further into the band’s own black metal-tinged abyss of thrashy, death-shrouded psychosis, complete with cover art by Andrei Bouzikov. They are essentially breathing a much-needed breath of life into a genre that’s been long at the mercy of mediocre pushers of lukewarm “br00tality.” As with my increasingly enthusiastic reactions to the band’s EP’s, it once again seems safe to say that with this record, the quartet has contributed to a steady pattern of increasing their vicious delivery on each release. I imagine fans of the band’s previous efforts could only welcome this hellacious beast of a record with open arms, and would eagerly suggest that those new to the world of Dismemberment to do the same!