A bear, Salvator Rosa, and the two old guys from the Muppets walk into a bar…
Wait… Before we go there, let’s get serious.
Line up ten veteran bands and ask them to regale you with stories concerning formidable obstacles encountered over their storied careers and you will find yourself inundated with enough suffering, outrage and triumph to fill a ten-volume set of encyclopedias, which would then immediately render an onerous obstacle for you, because humans in 2022 have largely forgotten the ways of the encyclopedia, and there’s probably not an app for that… Yet.
Enter the most dreaded beast to ever wriggle from the deepest corners of the Arkham House cellar: the Shoulda’coulda’woulda. Life is very often unjust, and for reasons largely outside the band’s power—label limitations / issues, compromised studio budgets, the ubiquitous volatility of the lineup—The Chasm never really got the timely break their output so sincerely deserved. Adding the current pandemic to the docket just as The Chasm began touring again in 2019… Well, that was just about the shittiest icing a cake could ever merit.
There’s a damned good reason the band labels themselves “iron-willed death metal,” though. Abyssal fires do not easily yield, and the strongest steel is forged in perdition’s ruthless flames. On November 2, 2021, amidst Día de los Muertos, The Chasm posted the following pic to their social media. And oh, how its not-so-subtle details did speak volumes cranked to 11:
That very direct image comprised of nothing but Corchado’s guitar and León’s drums is an absolutely perfect image to epitomize full-length number nine, as The Chasm is, for all intents and purposes, a two-piece band: Daniel Corchado as principal architect / guitarist / bassist / vocalist, and Antonio León behind the kit. Period. As long as these two continue to feel the fire, The Chasm will maintain hacking and slashing rites through Mictlān’s trials, with their steadfast fanbase continuing to reap the benefits of those labors. The duo sums up The Scars of a Lost Reflective Shadow as “…a somehow unforeseen departure / detour between Phase I & II,” and while there’s a good bit to unpack in a quote like that, the principal takeaway upon initial spins of the new record is this: The Chasm is pissed, The Chasm is hungry, and The Chasm just broke loose from the chain.
I enjoy summarizing this band’s releases in collage form, so please consider clicking through the following montage as a sprightly representation of what to expect with Scars:
Most of what’s pictured above is likely self-explanatory, but let’s throw a bit of attention on three options that could use a little more clarification.
Okay, a bear, Salvator Rosa, and the two old guys from the Muppets walk into a bar…
The roaring bear: It’s important to stress the following point that’s been left open since 2017’s A Conscious Creation from the Isolated Domain – Phase I: THERE ARE VOCALS ON SEVEN OF NINE SONGS HERE . That, in and of itself, is as exciting and worthy of the price of admission as Seven of Nine herself. And yes, the vocals do roar. Daniel is roaring again—roaring more like a bear as compared to, say, a lion, because lions roar any time a monkey does a summersault, whereas when a bear roars, you know you’re fucked.
Salvator Rosa: He was a master Baroque painter known for his portrayals of nature. Unlike many of his peers, however, Rosa chose to focus on the dark beauty of the wild and arcane. Human Fragility, painted in 1656, depicted a scene amidst the great pestilence, where the angel of death is guiding the hand of a child to write “Conceptio culpa, nasci pena, labor vita, necesse mori” » “Conception is a sin, birth is pain, life is toil, death a necessity.” Much like the bulk of The Chasm’s works, Scars likewise confronts the struggles of life and inevitability of death, and it does so amidst yet another dark and grim pandemic.
Statler and Waldorf: Two old-school curmudgeons who’d like to remind you that death metal was more explosive and head demolishing in the very late ‘80s and early ‘90s. They’re lovable about their grumbling, though, and any resemblance to real persons, in The Chasm or not, is purely coincidental.
RAW IS LAW, BABY.
One of the primary imprints immediately left by Scars relates to the way the record embraces rawness. Anyone familiar with the band is certainly no stranger to this, as rawness has always been a willing companion to The Chasm—it’s something that’s pretty much a given for any functioning extreme metal band working in a studio on a limited budget. But Scars embraces rawness as a requisite ingredient with a tireless appetite. When was the last time you heard a band purposely futz with a guitar’s volume knob in the middle of a song? (“The Constellations Stagger”) It’s effective, particularly when paired judiciously with the other key ingredient here: fury. Thrashing fury. This combination delivers a terrific sense of explosive urgency from start to finish, and with it crackles an incendiary energy that feels as if Scars had to be laid down NOW to save the duo from detonating on the spot. If this were a competition show, Corchado and León would step to the stage on their own and rip through these 43 minutes with nary an extra breath, setting fire to commercial breaks and judges with demonic fury. It’s this overall sense of raw, incendiary ferocity that not only recalls classics such as Merciless’ The Awakening and Sepultura’s Morbid Visions, it turns back the clock on the band’s discography to the glorious Deathcult for Eternity days.
The way Corchado and León attack their instruments in a song like “Spectre of the Arcane Cognition” conjures an ideal collision involving early Slayer and some lost puzzle piece between Abominations and Altars-era Morbid Angel. It’s…explosive—León storms through patterns and rolls like he has an extra set of arms, and Corchado carves riffs like a butcher with a nagging grudge, serving as a clear reminder of just how scarce this brand of thrashing & whipping old-school death metal is in 2022. It’s also representative of the record’s overall penchant for directness, sidestepping the band’s tendency to offer up at least one or two cuts that push to the 10-minute mark in favor of just hammering home a succinct attack that underscores riffs Riffs RIFFS in lieu of expendable noodling.
There are slower (and slightly slower) measures afoot as well, make no mistake. They further stress the Show No Mercy vibes when gnarly riff breakouts jump from the corners, and they jump from a LOT of corners here, the grimiest of which lands amidst the walloping “An Occult Gift Responds.” They also serve to accentuate the record’s myriad dark themes and abyssal depths, perhaps best showcased in the instrumental “The Constellations Stagger,” a song that emphasizes the classic The Chasm approach that slashes and rumbles through multiple layers and tempers in the blink of an eye. But even here it’s piloted in a notably succinct 5 minutes. (Hey, if the constellations plan on staggering, you really don’t want it going on for much longer than 5 minutes.)
As is customary, it’s difficult to guess where and when The Chasm will shift and strike next. In an unexpected way, this manages to amplify the mysticism surrounding the band. The beast lays dormant for years, conjuring doubts of any further movement or motivation, and then BOOM: signs of life creep through the fissure, and a new release very suddenly lands in our lap. It’s become one of life’s ongoing wonders, and it shadows Corchado’s fixation on the fine line that separates life and death, and how the latter forever lurks in the peripheral. Again, this release is touted as a “detour” between Phase I and Phase II, so at the least Scars indicates the possibility of an intended future and further exploration / experimentation. It’s just not… guaranteed. But for now, right in this present moment, it’s time once again to celebrate The Chasm. And with that comes a 2022 rendering that hits a highly vital and notably potent stride that clearly celebrates the past. Not just in the way the title of the record trips back to “Conqueror & Warlord,” or how Farseeing gets worked into the cover art, but in the music’s old-school rawness and forthrightness, and in its connection with that ancient well of annihilation responsible for birthing this particular face of extreme metal all those many years ago. This is, without question, iron-willed and authentic metal of death, and The Chasm continues to burn all obstacles in its pathway. You’d be wise to pay attention.
Scars of a lost reflective shadow
Once in fury, forever in grief
Once in sorrow, funeral is embraced
The Scars of a Lost Reflective Shadow release info as of today:
• Phase 1—Bandcamp: 5/27/22
• Phase 2—Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube, Etc.: TBD
• Phase 3—CD (and merchandise): Vic Records / August 2022
• Phase 4—Vinyl: 2023