Live Burial – Unending Futility (Transcending Obscurity Records)

Twenties death metal is a broad church – for every bunch of upstarts whose sole mission is to recreate Left Hand Path with extra crust, there’s another band who worship at the feet of pharaoh Karl Sanders. Often, however, the claustrophobic, sinister essence which permeated DM’s foundations is lost in a blaze of seven-string virtuosity or an over-reliance on a battered old HM-2. Yep, brutality and/or technicality can kill the vibe.

As such, it’s refreshing to take a dip into Live Burial’s world, because the Newcastle band have injected so much malevolence into their second opus that it drips from every suppurating pore.

At the core of Unending Futility is the charred soul of albums like Cause Of Death, Leprosy and Last One On Earth, a creeping, blood-curdling sense of dread. Rotting On The Rope’s opening riffs crawl over your skin and feel for a way in, Seeping Into The Earth marries putrid death/doom with Tampa-born blastwaves and the swirl of Cemetery Fog brings nameless horrors to your front door.

There are some exceptional individual performances here too: Jamie Brown, for instance, tears his throat to shreds with a Schuldiner/van Drunen hybrid roar, summoned from the depths of Tyneside’s scorched earth, while bassist Lee Anderson (also of Plague Rider and Horrified) harnesses his love of prog to thrilling effect, almost acting as a third lead player on The Crypt Of Slumbering Madness and blissfully anchoring the impressive instrumental, Winds Of Solace.

Indeed, while there are plenty of passages where outright, face-flaying violence rears its head (Swing Of The Pendulum will knock you for six) Live Burial’s progressive leanings mean that Unending Futility has a far greater density than many so called old school DM albums. The quintet’s songcraft balances structural complexity with gut-feel dynamics: this record gestates and mutates in the listener’s mind, and it’s all the better for it.

A landmark for both Live Burial and the current UK death metal scene, Unending Futility is as much of statement of intent as Blood Incantation and Tomb Mold’s efforts were last year.

And it deserves the same respect.