Impending Doom – Hellbent EP


Californian deathcore quartet, Impending Doom, have six albums to their name since their inception in 2005 and a host of tours with some of the biggest names in the scene. Those new to the music might look at a photograph of the short-haired band members in a folded-arms pose wearing Cannibal Corpse t-shirts and conclude that the audio experience will be a head-crushing one. You’re not wrong on this score – Hellbent is a monstrous assault on the senses with a low frequency range that could knock out the electricity grid in your local neighbourhood.

The most impressive aspect of the Impending Doom sound is the way they conjure images of deadly struggle with every chug of the guitar and smash of the snare drum. Opener, ‘Satanic Panic’, is no tongue-in-cheek lyrical indulgence beloved of speed metal bands – these Californians are committed Christians. No, this is groove metal strangled by the defiling hand of death metal. If the next Soulfly album sounds as murderous as this, we’re in for a treat. Listen to the quaking breakdown at 02:25 seconds – is this not heavy enough to make your gums bleed? Imagine this is a film scene, and the assailant has the victim pinned up against a wall. Then think of that moment when the victim digs his fingers into the eye sockets of his attacker. The facial expression of both men in this instance represents the visual equivalent of Impending Doom’s music.

‘New World Horror’ is another song suited to a short film, but you’re the star on this occasion, and your mission is to crawl out off a crater in no man’s land with two broken arms. It’s an unforgiving slab of metalcore coated in an ugly distortion and nuanced with aching ambient tones in the background that’ll remind you of the avant-garde minimalism of an art house horror film. The drop-tuned guitar syncopation is heavier than the conscience of Judas. ‘Culture of Death’ is just as fierce. Impending Doom are adept at leaving a permanent contortion on your face. Brook Reeves carnivorous vocals are the sound of a man holding his palms to the fire at the cusp of extreme pain. The drummer’s footwork will leave you with mouth agape at every crunch of the double-kick pedal. Fuck, this is heavy!

Of course, the toughest challenge for any deathcore band is appealing to the puritans that listen to Suffocation without alienating the kids that worship Slipknot. True, Impending Doom have a few moments of nu metal posturing, but this is a band that enjoy their metallic hardcore and know their late 90s beatdown music. ‘I Must End’ is like Extinction A.D. with a death metal twist. This is how you write a chorus of machine-gun riffing with grisly vocal abrasions. Each palm-mute of the guitar imitates the exaggerated thud of a fist connecting with a face. You might even check your jawbone is still intact when it’s over.

An EP of five tracks is easier to stomach than a full-length album, but Impending Doom show here that another twenty minutes would be a treat rather than a chore. Hellbent is too ferocious to permit the luxury of allowing your mind to wander. Can you see those needles aimed at your eyeballs? You’re one inch away from a gouging.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 12/01/2022

Record Label: MNRK Heavy

Standout tracks: Satanic Panic, I Must End

Suggested Further Listening: Bound in Fear – Eternal EP (2021), Oceano – Depths (2009), Extinction A.D. – Chaos, Collusion, Carnage & Propaganda EP (2021)