Is there anything more intriguing than a one-man extreme metal act? Sorrow Enthroned spew up from the sewers of sunny New England like a rotten stench of bacterial particles intent on getting underneath your nostrils. The identity of the musical creator remains anonymous, but we can predict with some certainty that he hates humanity and admires Satan.
By the sounds of it, the man behind this monstrosity spends his valuable bedroom time browsing the dark web for snuff films rather than perfecting his audio craft on Cubase. And that’s not a bad thing. Thelemic Grimoires is a deliberate sabotage effort that takes the raw malevolence of Carcass’ Reek of Putrefaction as its template and the primal darkness of Darkthrone as its mood. Crackly guitar distortion permeates through the record, often cutting out the other instruments in the mix and sometimes disappearing under the awesome chest-convulsions of the bass. The low-end chugs are sludgy, the vocals in the brutal death metal mould. Every so often we get a higher-pitched mania set to the rumble of audio waves not heard since the debut Repulsion record. Opener, ‘Sins of the Carnal Man’ is a blast of cavernous death metal that sounds like a group of virtuoso musicians recording a rehearsal through the auxiliary plug-in of a 1980s hi-fi player. It’s as grimy as an overworked diamond-miner in Sierra Leone. ‘… And it was Night’ is like a sludge band incorporating goregrind into their sound. Fans of Autopsy will love it. With a song called ‘Inutterable Darkness’, you should know what to expect at the half-way mark of this record. Yet this is where the guitars abandon the chest-swells of the sludgy palm-muting for more experimental scale-runs. It feels like a jazz band tasked by Satan to write the filthiest and most transgressive music imaginable. And, of course, you always wanted to hear what a death grunt sounds like over a chromatic piece of guitar noodling, right?
You need to follow the music through the lyrics to get the best out of this album. It’s a paradise lost narrative of fallen angels and man’s redemption through the glory of the devil. “Ye who fell from heaven/ Save us from winter winds/ Divine darkness illuminates hidden paths/ Two to one to none,” says the gargled voice on ‘Artem Satanismus’. You get the picture. This man is not fucking around. There are no solos or sleazy speed metal riffs here. Only nasty distortion, angular rhythms and harsh sounds. None of the songs even attempt a verse-chorus pattern. Behind the muddied onslaught is an impressive execution of technical metal.
However, Thelemic Grimoires has its irksome moments as well. The drum snares are atrocious, often imitating the clink of a table tennis ball bouncing off the trajectory of a feeble serve. As for the guitars, these are savage but sometimes flat and ridden with tuneless palm-muting on more than one occasion. Okay, we get it. The creator wants it to be raw and wretched and torturous to the ears, but thirty-eight minutes of this can merge into one long song of innocuous noise. It loses its potency by track seven.
Only at the closing track, do we get some respite, and it’s an eerie chill of keyboard strings with Darth Vader vocals to prepare us for the final blast beats of the album. The guitars are bordering on the unlistenable; the percussion section whelps like a dying animal. Yet it has its charms. As a snapshot of the album it captures the admirable sincerity of its creator. He cares not what you think. This is a test to see if you can handle the flagellation. It’s no shame if you can’t, but those with thicker skin will find something of meaning here.
Release Date: 06/11/2020
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Sins of the Carnal Man, Artem Satanismus, Thelemic Grimoires
Suggested Further Listening: Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize (2020), Carcass – Reek of Putrefaction (1988), Disabled – The Final Exhumation (2020)