As discerning metalheads will happily tell you, Russia is becoming increasingly influential in the ever-expanding death metal realm. Check out the likes of TOTAL DESPAIR, WOMBRIPPER and THE OCCULT for convincing and varied evidence. Or just stick this new KATALEPSY album into your ears at maximum volume. When it comes to nailing the sound and spirit of death metal's modernist wing in 2020, "Terra Mortuus Est" frequently strays close to perfection.
The key to this album's infectious savagery lies in the blurred lines between all-out brutal death, groove-focused slamming death and — most importantly — the warped but fierce musicality of the genre's old-school contingent. You could spit out of your window and hit at least three bands that play death metal with slamming beatdowns, but bands of this self-evident quality and class remain few and far between. The Moscovians' last album, 2016's "Gravenous Hour", was a sophisticated yet thuggish show of strength that just seemed to be more generously stocked with ideas and ingenuity than most comparable modern death metal records. Here, KATALEPSY fulfil all that promise with added interest.
Opener "Closer Than Flesh" says it all in four murderous minutes: this is defiantly state-of-the-art stuff and it impacts like a spiked fist to the eyeball. But there are hooks bursting through the leathery, bloodstained sonic carapace, and KATALEPSY sound like a band with as much interest in writing memorable songs as they do in crushing skulls. The result is a flurry of psychotic but precise bursts of dynamic extremity, with numerous, convincing detours into more atmospheric, melodic or slow-paced territory. Songs like "Those Who Rot The Souls" begin as straightforward exercises in deathly pummel, but the Russians have a subtly warped way of putting riffs together that makes this far more immersive than the majority of knuckle-dragging none-more-brutal fare. More overtly epic and adventurous horrors like "The God of Grave" and the suffocating menace of closer "Land of Million Crosses" fit seamlessly with more straightforwardly vicious tracks like the windmilling spite-fest of the title track and the succinct bludgeon of "Kings of The Underground", and the whole thing rattles by in what seems like significantly less than its 51-minute running time.
Diehard fans of this stuff already hold KATALEPSY in high regard, and it's not hard to see why. "Terra Mortuus Est" is a manifestly superior take on a well-worn but still flourishing formula.