Let’s talk about headbanging for a minute. Is there a wrong way to headbang? Are there places where you shouldn’t headbang? First off, there is no wrong way to bang your head. The biggest faux pas would be misjudging your spatial parameters and accidentally injuring your cranium mid-bang. That would be the wrong way I guess. But really, as long as you’re flailing with everything you’ve got, and putting your back into it, you’ve got a good chance at a quality bang. To address the second question, yes, there are places you shouldn’t headbang. Not normal places like churches, weddings, very small rocks or Bar Mitzvahs, I’m talking about places like the emergency room, fitting rooms, a cave, really anywhere that could subject you to intense injury due to unfamiliar surroundings or tight spaces.
But what about in Italy? Can you headbang in Italy? After some light research it appears that, despite their crumbling infrastructure and potential Brexit from the EU, Italy still hasn’t seen fit to outlaw the practice. So, whether at the Coliseum, Vatican City (technically its own nation) or a beautiful pony-filled villa in Tuscany you can feel free to unburden yourself with a quality bang.
You might be asking yourself where this tangent is headed. If you know where it’s headed, please feel free to enlighten me because I can’t really figure out this whole “life” thing for the, well, life of me. So, Ekpyrosis are a death metal band from Italy. We are talking about grimy, filthy death metal with vocals leaning towards the likes of Undergang and Rottrevore. Across Asphyxiating Devotion the band halts, lurches and rips along on a journey of vitriolic death metal with a profuse number of old school references, tending towards the Swedish school. For their debut LP, the band has re-recorded a number of tracks from their previous demos (with superior production and more aggression) complemented by some new tracks.
The early tracks, particularly “Obsessive Christendom,” display Ekpyrosis’ take-no-prisoners attitude. The band is writing riffs akin to Obituary on speed. Angular, screeching riffs undercut by a rather open rhythm section providing double bass at a full on gallop. But, like Ekpyrosis’ fancy tends to be, they balance those riffs with slower, more jarring sections to break up the monotony before pouring into the next track. Here, the use is an open drum beat joined by thick, chunk chord work on the guitars that falls into a sort of lurching breakdown (and if you like breakdowns check out the one in the opener “Profound Death.”)
Tracks like, “Blasphemous Doom,” confess that, for all their backwards looking nostalgia, Ekpyrosis, particularly the rhythm section, is equally in tune with contemporaries such as 2016 breakout Nucleus. That track, in particular, stands out among the unending cessation of assault unbroken by the switching of tracks. Spots of minimalism, vocals and drums only, open up an even more harsh reality within the Ekpyrosis’ compositional skill set. The undulation of the tune, gentle gliding between alternating, and equally harsh assaults, rocks the listener into submission before the final track, “Unearthly Blindness” absolutely crushes all remaining will.
With the approach of essentially forty years of death metal, it’s not easy to separate from the foundations. Ekpyrosis have enough Death and Grave and Necrophobic stylings to easily link them to the old school. But the album has a crisp take on the filthy underbelly of death metal. Plenty of rhythmic changes lead to head-thrashing-banging-cracking breakdowns sure to leave many a listener concussed at the mere thought of impending whiplash. Don’t simply sit back and ascribe to the school of “no one will ever top Incantation.” Rather, follow the ancient proverb, seek and ye shall find, young metal warrior.” In this case, search in Italy and find the dingy, squalid and soiled brand of death metal of Ekpyrosis.