Appalling – Inverted Realm (Redefining Darkness Records)

Employing a similar blackened death blueprint to Angelcorpse – albeit a much rawer, more organic version – Appalling are set to leave a serious dent in the global extreme scene, thanks to this debut.

Another fine act to emerge from Richmond, Virginia’s fertile ground, the quintet show their mastery of infernal grooves and contorted, slime caked riffery as soon as opener Hot Coals For Branding sears your ear canal… and from there on in it’s a savage attack on the senses, with Brandon Malone spearheading the assault with a refreshingly distinctive roar. Indeed, the vocalist is a rarity in contemporary death metal, an original talent, rather than a cut and paste grunt merchant.

It’s a welcome change.

The highlights? A Mutilator At Large may just be the pick of Inverted Realm’s grisly bunch. An old school DM stomp married to unnerving black metal melancholia, it opens with a Cannibal Corpse-style barrage and shows in just under five minutes what Appalling are capable of. It’s pretty damn nasty… and as close to ‘anthemic’ as this genre gets.

However, the remainder of Inverted Realm is an impressive tour around metal’s darkest reaches too: Critical Thinking’s atom-smashing, otherworldly mindfuck takes us into Morbid Angel’s mutated landscapes, Shameful Kiss turns the sky blood red with a succession of lacerating riffs, and Templar brings things to a close with some surprisingly ‘rock’ leadwork, set to a pounding heartbeat.

Quite a debut, then, from the Virginians.  And at just seven tracks, we’re hoping that there’s more to come very soon…