4 Doors to Death is a compilation from Unspeakable Axe records that features ten previously unreleased tracks from four up-and-coming North American death metal bands. Two of the included bands, Ectovoid and Trench Rot, I am familiar with; the remaining two, Cemetery Filth and Sabbatory, I am not. While each band has its own sound, they are united in a rather filthy and decidedly old-school approach to death metal. Without further ado, let’s open some doors.
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Door #1: Cemetery Filth
Cemetary Filth, with members hailing from Tennessee and Georgia, is perhaps the least stylistically distinct of the four bands on the compilation. The group doesn’t ape any particular style, but the vibe is generally more European than American.
Two of Cemetary Filth’s three tracks, “Consumption of Volition” and “Cosmic Wraiths,” are generally up-tempo, by-the-numbers death metal that’s dominated by tremolo picked riffs, but they feature some decent, crunchy grooves and some simple, slightly off-kilter melody.
“Dagonian Dialect… The Obelisk Unearthed,” however, is the most interesting song of the three. For the most part, it’s a slow burning doom/death track, but it also finds the band stretching out a bit with some emotive soloing and somewhat more complex melody.
Basically, Cemetery Filth isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, but these are solid tracks, and the band develops enough of an atmosphere to keep them relatively engaging.
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Door #2: Ectovoid
With two full-lengths under its belt, Alabama’s Ectovoid is, comparatively speaking, the veteran act of the bunch. “Ash Primordial” and “Possessed by Ancient Dread” see the band continuing to emphasize more of the death side of its black/death metal.
“Ash Primordial” is a punishingly heavy number highly reminiscent of Incantation, which isn’t exactly a fresh sound these days, but Ectovoid’s execution is thoroughly convincing. “Possessed by Ancient Dread” is less immediate and less visceral, but it’s a better showcase for Ectovoid’s style and is ultimately the more memorable of the two tracks because it is a slower, more brooding affair, with a hypnotic undercurrent of melody.
Overall, Ectovoid’s sound is the darkest and most massively imposing of the four bands on the compilation.
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Door #3 Sabbatory
The lone Canadian act on the compilation, Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Sabbatory is the biggest surprise of the record. The band possesses the grittiest, grimiest and most rabidly vicious sound of the four bands.
Sabbatory’s first track, “Acension to My Holy Tomb,” is a non-stop ripper with relentless drumming and snapping, piranha-like riffs. The song conjures an atmosphere of claustrophobic desperation and relents in its ass-kicking only to kick ass even harder seconds later. It’s brutal death done the old-school way.
“Primordial,” a Mortuary Drape cover, is a looser affair with a punkier, d-beat feel. Being structurally quite simple, it is the less interesting of the two Sabbatory tracks offered, but it’s no less intense. Plus, some energetic leads do the job of spicing the song up a bit.
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Door #4: Trench Rot
Philadelphia’s Trench Rot plays war-themed death metal that sounds like a cross between Asphyx and Bolt Thrower. On paper, that should add up to Hail of Bullets, but Trench Rot’s style is a little less glory & reverence and a little more blood & guts.
The band’s first track, “Hell Pilot’s Call,” is a prime example of Trench Rot’s heavy-hitting style that proves they can trudge with the best of their peers. But there’s some swagger to that trudge, and just enough melody to lend the song additional depth.
“Powerful Kandarian Steel” moves a little quicker, initially, but it slows to a merciless slog made all the more brutal by bass drums that hit like artillery shells. A somber theme emerges toward the close of the cut that takes on the air of a funeral march; I don’t think the troops are going to make it home.
Trench Rot ends 4 Doors to Death with a fine tribute to the oldest of old-school death metal via a cover of Death’s “Evil Dead”. Their rendition is too faithful to the original to be truly interesting, but the band’s enthusiasm for the material is certainly palpable.
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As long as the death you seek is classically styled, you can’t go wrong with 4 Doors to Death. Each of the four bands included on this compilation executes their approach admirably enough that you’re left wanting more once it’s done. As such, fans of new old-school death should not sleep on this one.