By Sarah Kitteringham
BeatRoute.ca is proud to premiere “A Witch Shall Be Born (Daughter of Darkness)” the sixth track from the debut full-length by Ottawa’s Occult Burial. Stream the song below and read our interview with drummer Dan Lee, guitarist Dan McLoud, and vocalist/bassist Joel Thomas before the full-length is released on April 25th.
CALGARY — It’s no secret that “metal that sounds like it was made in the ‘80s” is swelling forth from the underground like incessant and wretched hell spawn at this very moment. Call it a reaction to the hyper processed production of the 2000s, call it a bunch of metal fans trying to be TRVE (with the V, not the U, because that’s how she goes, boys), or call it the great poser elimination…. It don’t matter. Murky production, non-triggered drums, and basement-quality recordings are spewing forth both deliberately and organically from bands around the world, to polarizing results.
If you sit on the side of the fence that looks back at Exciter and Sodom’s classic early material with glee, then Occult Burial’s debut full-length will pass your lofty expectations. The Ottawa trio lives and breathes that period; hell, they’ve only released cassette and vinyl demos and splits; their live performances are ritualistic and deliberate. For their debut full length Hideous Obscure, released via taste making label Invictus Productions, you can expect blackened speed metal with a specific template: that is Obsessed by Cruelty era Sodom mixed in with some Torment in Fire era Sacrifice, slathered in Bathory (early Bathory, not the Viking era stuff). Hell, one of the band members even sports an Angelripper bowl haircut in a promo photo. These guys aren’t fucking around with their homage worship.
“That’s definitely the sound we were going for. We thought it would be easy, but it was really, really hard. You know, we thought it’d be so much easier doing it ourselves, but it turned out so hard!”
Evidently, the recording process for Hideous Obscure was affected some disastrous recording, which eventually brought the nine-track collection to life. Of the nine, six are re-recordings from various demos and compilations, slightly slowed down and cleaned up, resulting in a more cohesive and palatable package (depending on how bottomless your basement worship is). The remaining three are new tracks.
“It’s not like we necessarily sat down and listened to Destruction and Bathory records and tracked the sound, like that, we just went [and] bought an eight-track from the store with whatever band money we had. It’s the only thing we ever bought with band money. So yeah. The sound comes from, just the tools that we are using, rather than some intentional mimicry of another band.”
We mention the Angelripper haircut, and everyone starts to laugh.
“It’s the style that you live, why would you dress any other way?”
All told, Hideous Obscure is a whole-package-deal: it’s nine songs of a raspy blackened screech over punk/traditional metal riffs, speed up and stripped down raw. The atmospheric instrumental opener (creatively dubbed “Intro”) sets the tone for what follows.
“That was my deal,” says drummer Lee.
“I wanted it to sound like it was opening up, the earth was spilling out, its deepest, evilest recesses were being barfed out onto the surface. Like the evil frogs and everything like that coming up. I did that on our rehearsal floor playing drums, slowing down the pitch, and slowing down those pitches again and again and again. There is a lot of tape separation on that. It wasn’t me just fucking around. I had an idea of how I wanted it to sound, reflecting the album. It doesn’t reflect the album as a whole, but it does reflect the song [“Black Adoration”}. So the intro reminds me of a degenerate, ancient, weird humanoid creature that can only moan.”
The album continues barreling along with the Inquisition style Popeye/frog vocals opening up “A Witch Shall Be Born (Daughter of Darkness)” which is peppered with the jackhammer snare; meanwhile, the music is fist pumping and simple-in-the-right-ways. “Blasted Death” has the perfect intro with a ripping solo and aggressive backbeat; later on, the title track is all raw grooves and malignant growls.
Named after a phrase from the 1898 ghost story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, Hideous Obscure is similarly sinister, lyrically and visually inspired by Lovecraft, Egyptian mythology, death, and the occult. This is a package deal, and Occult Burial knows the crowd they are catering to. Here, living and practicing a certain musical style resulted in a highly pleasing package, sure to inspire worship from a deliberate and specific audience.
Buy Hideous Obscure from Invictus Productions on April 25th. You can listen to two other tracks from the album, including “Black Adoration” and “Hades Son” at their Bandcamp.A Witch Shall Be Born (Daughter of Darkness), AB, Alberta, Hideous Obscure, Occult Burial