“If Heaven is merciful, it will someday efface from my consciousness, the sight that I saw and let me live my last years in peace. I cannot sleep at night now, and have to take opiates when it thunders.” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Lurking Fear
If you’re a real, tried-and-true human being…one with a legit sense of heart and feelings…the odds are most definitely stacked toward the possibility that you’ve somehow, at some time in your life, been subjected to some of the most relentlessly pummeling darkness a stint on this plane of existence has to offer. With all of the light our eyes can witness and embrace, there are just as many shadows to choke our day to a halt. When it comes to the more grotesque, dismal side of things, life is really good at dishing that stuff out in gloriously destructive helpings. There are tons of old sayings about taking the bad with the good that pretty much seem to be an attempt to gloss over just how immensely anguishing our reality can be. Loss is real. Heartbreak is real. Rejection is real. Degradation is real. Hatred is real. Death is real. The unending abyss of total, sanity-killing darkness is 100% real. The thing is, only those with genuine heart and feeling can truly attest to what it’s like to go through those things…unless, of course, the very journey through the nightmare is what so viciously dragged them under. What’s really quite refreshing, in a world so full of unbridled misery, is when that Cimmerian stranglehold is harnessed to create something that’s just as hellish yet cathartic…and disturbingly beautiful all the same.
The Circle City’s very own masters of misanthropy, Coffinworm, have always seemed to have their collective finger on the throbbing pulse of life’s penchant for punishment. The band has returned with IV.I.VIII, their second full-length offering through Profound Lore Records. This time around, the kind of sludgy, black blooded nightmare psychosis that ran rampant like a plague doctor’s worst nightmare on 2010’s When All Became None is masterfully multiplied with gloriously unholy results.
With Sanford Parker once again handling production at Earth Analog studio, and like-a-glove cover art by Scott Shellhamer, IV.I.VIII is Coffinworm’s invitation to not just stare into long into the abyss, but to become fully submerged in its madness. Sludge-infested riffs and gripping death metal tempos are in abundance here, which is something faithful fans of the ‘Worm should embrace with open arms. The same can easily be said in regards to noticeable enhancements in the realms of instrumentation and atmospherics. “Sympathectomy” gets things off to an appropriately chaotic death-drenched start before transitioning into doomier territory, and is followed up by “Instant Death Syndrome,” which previously appeared on the band’s split 7” with Fistula. And, as if the one-two punch of the first two tracks wasn’t enough to level all adversaries, the remaining four delightfully destructive ditties that round out IV.I.VIII follow suit with ease. Closing number, “A Death Sentence Called Life,” features guest vocals by Jacob Bryan of Indianapolis straightedge hardcore outfit, Overpower, and drives home the fact that while you may very well like what you’re hearing, you’re still neck-deep in the choking lunacy of life. This is a record that is straight-up fueled by that nightmare. But it’s like that old saying goes about what doesn’t kill you…and Coffinworm have just returned that much stronger.