[Cover art by Mark Erskine]
If I’d had a record like The Parasitic Chambers back in 1990? Oh, I would’ve cranked the bowels out of it from every available speaker. But even with the benefit of 33 added years of cranking leading up to this very moment, I’m still not certain I’d fully understand what the hell is going on with all these twists and turns. The record sounds ancient—inspired by a very early form of thrashy technical death metal that predates tech death—but there’s also a unique freshness to the way it launches a completely RELENTLESS assault of about 7 million riffs in its blessedly fleeting 38 minutes. Not since a record like War and Pain can I recall a time when so many riffs seemed so at odds with…well, literally everything, including each other. Listening to this record is likely analogous to making out with a snowblower that’s in the midst of pulverizing a full row of rotted ice into a volcanic blowout. In the world of cartoons, The Parasitic Chambers spends the entire show doing this without a single commercial break:
If I had to build The Parasitic Chambers from scratch using only ingredients found in my home, I would place everything currently in the medicine cabinet into a large cauldron of boiling blood, then I would add the following four records:
Following that, I’d simply hope against hope that the fumes off that spicy brew wouldn’t find some way to come to life and turn me inside out.
Listen to a song like “Devastating Cataclysmic Unearthing” and bear witness to your veins ripping free from your body in an attempt to flee the barbed wire bedlam, particularly around its halfway point. Everyone’s playing here is as lethal as shotgunning Drano: the drumming is a clinic on harnessing the raw energy of thunder, and the bass and guitars wriggle with the demented joy of weremaggots choking down a keg of blood. In all honesty, we should consider ourselves lucky that most of these songs barely push past the 3-minute mark.
If you’re hoping for slow ‘n’ greazy breakdowns, endless hooks, or anything resembling even more Bolt Throwing or the umpteenth ode to Timeghoul, you will be left hiiiiiiiiigh and dry, m’lords & ladies. Although being high while listening to this album might actually be ill-advised, as the relentless whipping might lead you to believe your nervous system is failing. There is, however, a modest amount of footholds scattered throughout that become more distinct upon repeated listens—swift and utterly devastating riff breakouts, a lively “chorus” here and there, and scads of fun leads that resemble loose offal attempting a brazen escape.
I have no clue why the band continues to opt for a sloooowwwww closer, but I also don’t know why Madonna dated Dennis Rodman. Closer “The Unworshipped II” picks up where 2021’s Majestic Dissolve and “The Unworshipped” left off, delivering an even doomier conclusion that sticks out like a severed thumb in a punchbowl at a baptism party. (Sweet solo, though!) And as long as we’re comparing the two, I would say the latest record does not stray very far from where the band trekked with Majestic Dissolve, but The Parasitic Chambers does manage to do all of what’s been done to an even greater extreme, and with an impeccable production that’s insanely suited for such a destructive uproar.
In the end, the requirement level of an album like The Parasitic Chambers swings entirely on just how much chaotic death metal force you need in your life. The record is purposely hostile, barbed and difficult to snuggle up to, which will absolutely (and likely intentionally) serve as a barricade for some. However, it’s also weirdly fresh in that same way, given that so much of today’s death metal scene continues to foster a style that’s grindier, hookier and more avant-garde. The Parasitic Chambers is a relentless explosion of brutality by design—the sort of record 90% of the population will think sounds like ten full drawers of silverware being run over by a lawnmower. Ain’t music the best?