The winkingly-named Acephalix careens through twenty-five minutes of their grimy, doomed take on death/crust in Interminable Night, which is sure to elicit the Folded Arms & Half Nod Of Approval from grizzled lifers the metal world over. Three-quarters of Acephalix also does time in Vastum, the San Francisco death metal act whose Carnal Law will also soon see the light of day, and while Acephalix is definitely on the filthier end of the black-punk-death-broken-teeth spectrum than other recent Southern Lord emissions from The Secret, Masakari, Black Breath, and so forth, the band slots in nicely alongside the label’s new “What happened to all the drone?” ethos.
There is absolutely nothing new presented in Acephalix’s sound, so the focus is instead on creating a suitably dank atmosphere through the buzzing, rattling, downtuned production and the cascade of old-timer riffs – descending chromatic here, mid-period Napalm Death there, showers of broken d-beat glass cascading over Hellhammered doom. Interminable Night is significantly speedier and not quite as black as Sepulchre’s recently-released I, but fans of that prime slab of filth will want to take note of Acephalix as well.
Interminable Night revolves pretty squarely around the Amebix/Discharge axis, but with plenty of general doomy filth and early Swedish death sprinkled into the brew. “Daemonic Sign” busts into a perfectly classic 1991 guitar solo, while the title track rides a cresting wave of blackened tremolo riffing. And check out the impressively prolonged ascending-pitch howl in the middle of “Warm Flesh” for a taste of the excellent vocal chops on display throughout. The guitars are sort of like Sunlight’s signature chainsaw buzz dropped in a barrel of tar and kicked into a vast limestone cave. These riffs may as well be the hateful trajectories of enraged stalactites scything out of the darkness to enact their hideous revenge.
If you’ve heard these sounds before, Interminable Night still succeeds through masterful pacing and clenched-jaw execution. Take album opener “Christhole,” for example. The drums alternate between a number of exceedingly simple patterns, from a basic slow hardcore two-step to very Slayer-esque ride cymbal eighth notes. The guitar squeezes out some grimy chromatics, and the vocals canter along disagreeably. Sounds straightforward enough, but the songwriting has picked up all the classic tricks from death metal, crust, blackish doom, and everything else in between to make the entire package cohere into something greater than a musicological deconstruction would suggest.
But hey, I’ll cut the wordy bullshit: Interminable Night is low and mean and nasty and a hell of a lot of fun. Music that wears its regressive influences so baldly on its sleeve (tattoos) tends to either get called shameless imitation (if you hate it) or peerless atavism (if you dig it). Acephalix definitely tips the scales more to the latter on Interminable Night, so cue up the first few scenes of Kubrick’s 2001 and get your caveman stomp itch gruesomely scratched.