“Hadal Ascending“, the latest offering from German Death Metallers Ichor is an utterly fascinating release, not just from the perspective of sound but from the story line also. It has a slightly Lovecraftian theme that ties in with the previous two of its three predecessors, 2010’s “Benthic Horizon” and the 2014 release “Depths“, that of a fictional story of a “devastated and hate-filled deep-sea world full of creatures and mystical beings: Human warriors reached the hadal-level in the deep sea and fight a bitter fight against gorgons and creatures of the depths. To implore transcendent energies, rituals are hold during the slaughter. The demon ‘Zaan’ awakes and feeds on the blood of the warriors. He opens the portal to other worlds and as a leader of gorgons and creatures; he leads them through the portal into the empire of stars and planets.”
The band also explain “Whereas in “Depths” pure destructiveness dominated, in “Hadal Ascending” little sparks of melancholic hope flash – only for one reason: To intensify the pain of the trident that penetrates the heart of all existence.”
“Hadal Ascending” is eight tracks spanning thirty two minutes and has a rich, thick and heavy sound ,complex but not fussy, with superb US Death Metal influenced guitar work, a little in the realms of Daylight Dies meets Polish titans Behemoth and a touch of bouncy Origin brutality thrown in for good measure. Slightly technical, slightly progressive with noticeable blackened elements and verging at times towards a doom like pace and mood, but very Death Metal at the core all melded with a lush fluidity and dark haunting melody, superb drum work, well considered patterns that enhance the guitar work with a generous use of the cymbals rather than just an onslaught of drum battery, and a predominant rasping growl of a delivery that ascends to a higher blackened gurgling scream, both deliver with clarity the lyrical content, allowing you to follow the story line.
The guitar work is excellent, well layered and phrased and this phrasing makes it all the more powerful, the chunks of lead work that do manifest are superb, as on “Black Dragons“, riff wise there are a lot of hypnotic repeats that are slightly mournful but hugely reflective and the mix of haunting lead work, punchy riffs topped off by second half background vocal chants is strongly effective particularly against the closing acerbic vocal rasp on “Architect Of The Portal” and I love how the bass lines develop a bouncy groove and more become prominent as “Children Of The Sea” progresses, enhanced with a brief chunk of keyboard work that just elevates the sound further. I don’t have a favourite track at all; the whole album is excellent and needs to be enjoyed in its entirety.
Like its predecessors, “Benthic Horizon” and “Depths“, “Hadal Ascending” was recorded, mixed and mastered in Hertz Studio Poland (Behemoth, Hate, Decapitated, Vader) with cover artwork by Par Olofsson (Aborted, The Faceless, Immortal) and layout by Mentalporn (Origin, Immolation, Hate, Behemoth). “Hadal Ascending” will be available from December 7th from Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork (CD, digital) and Wooaaargh Records (vinyl).
Rating – 5/5
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