There has been a whole lot of death metal lately that sounds like it’s been recorded in a cave. Certainly, there have been a few winners playing this style, but it is not generally a trend of which I am terribly fond. Chile’s Oraculum, with its second EP, Always Higher, is another band playing over-reverbed death metal, but they manage to overcome the sub-optimal production via the tried and true formula of quality riffs and aggression.
Label: Invictus Productions.
Finally, “Sphinx” is the gem of this trio of tracks. Beneath its very thick death metal veneer, this nine-minute multi-faceted beast is a sort of progressive thrash-metal epic, with riffs that bring to mind the most brutal of Slayer’s work, prime-era Sepultura, and maybe even a little Metallica. As much as I’d like to credit Oraculum for the cut, though, I discovered only recently that it’s a cover, originally written and performed by Germany’s Poison, which is clearly a very different band compared to the American band of the same name. Well, one of the German Poisons, and presumably the better one. However, I can still give Oraculum credit for good taste in covers and a good interpretation of the original song.
To my ears, everything on Always Higher could be a little sharper and a little punchier. That is not to say that the EP’s gritty old-school vibe is without its own charms, but there are great performances across the board on this recording and it would be nice to hear them a little more clearly. Production quibbles aside, Always Higher features some damn good death metal. Here’s hoping we get some more from this band in the near future.