Band: Outer Heaven
Album: Realms of Eternal Decay
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Death Metal
Country: United States
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Pennsylvania is an absolute hotbed for heavy music. Bands like: Rivers of Nihil, Black Crown Initiate, Incantation, Full of Hell, Code Orange, August Burns Red and one of my absolute favorites, Horrendous are just a handful of the big names that pop up when I think about PA. Not to mention that it is also home to This Is Hardcore every year. That eclectic group of names may not tell you much about the band I’m reviewing today, but the unreadable name on the cover paired with the fact that I’m writing it (Metal Utopia’s token “True Death Metal Head”) should tell you that it’s another dirty death metal debut! Now will Outer Heaven add their name to the list of well-known extreme metal acts from PA? Spoiler alert: Absolutely.
Outer Heaven formed in 2013 and since then have graced their listeners with a demo, a split and a handful of singles. After a recent signing with the prestigious Relapse Records, Outer Heaven are poised to unleash their debut full-length on the world. If you’re anything like me the savagery of the cover art INSTANTLY grabbed your attention and refused to let go. There are a ton of little details going on, and it truly captures the disgusting and violent atmosphere of this monstrosity. Realms of Eternal Decay is a downright evil and surprisingly technical record that should not be ignored.
On a passing listen you may dismiss Outer Heaven as another love letter to Swedish OSDM, and while you wouldn’t be wrong, you’d be egregiously underselling the group. Death metal is absolutely their core influence and sound, but there are black metal and doom metal influences peppered throughout this record. Another exciting feature about this record is actually the concept. Realms of Outer Decay seems to tell the story of a distant world that has become infected with an organism that corrupts the mind and compels you to murder. Basically “28 Days Later” in space. The vocals on Putrid Dwellings have a digitized effect that conjures up the image of an extraterrestrial beast. The cover art does a phenomenal job of depicting this narrative and really brings the album together when you understand the story.
The production on this record compliments Outer Heaven’s sound very well. It has a thick cavernous atmosphere, but none of the instruments are neglected. The sound of the bass is utter perfection. On tracks like Vortex of Thought & Multicellular Savagery, the rest of the band drops out to let the vile rhythm take control. The sound of the drums is also very well executed. The drums are never too loud, the cymbals don’t feel overwhelming, and something about that snare is extremely hypnotic for me. If “clean production” is a derogatory term in your dictionary, you will be ecstatic upon starting this album.
The songs on realms of Eternal Decay are short and sweet for the most part with an average of 3 minutes per song. One of my favorite tracks, Tortured Winds, is the shortest song on the record at just over two minutes. The two-minute monster has many tempo changes and even genre-bending moments. Halfway through runtime we are welcomed to one of the grooviest sections of the entire record. The intensity never wavers though as we are taken out on a neck breaking and knuckle dragging riff. On the other end of the spectrum we have the longest track finishing the album for us, Decaying Realms. I love almost everything about the closing song, it never felt too long or monotonous. The songwriting was taken very seriously for this song to really wrap up the concept of the record in a gore spattered bow. This leads to my annoyance with the song itself. When Decaying Realms begins, there is a very unpleasant sound effect of bombs going off or planets exploding? I’m not entirely sure what the sound represents, but as the culmination of the story it sounds like destruction. While I appreciate the commitment to the theme of the record, the execution of it was poorly done.
There were a meager amount of problems I have with Outer Heaven’s debut, but they are there. A few of the cuts on the album felt much less memorable than the rest, like Echoes from Beyond and Bloodspire. Not to say they were bad songs, but they didn’t make much of an impact on me and felt less inspired than their counterparts. The vocals are the weakest spot for me on the record. For the majority of the runtime the vocals are your run of the mill guttural death metal vocals, and I just like a bit of personality shining through on the growls. The mixing of the vocals were handled very well. They are lower in the mix than most of the instruments are, but they aren’t hiding where you have to strain to listen for them.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 2018 has been incredible for the resurgence of death metal. Established acts like Horrendous, Tomb Mold, and Mammoth Grinder have once again set the standard for what fans of death metal want to hear. While newcomers Depravity, Ripped to Shreds, and now Outer Heaven have taken the baton and exploded out from the starting point. Is it perfect? No, but Realms of Eternal Decay is well-executed and Outer Heaven are oozing with potential for future releases. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on the extreme metal scene in Philadelphia.
1.Vortex of Thought
2. What Lies Beneath
3. Pulsating Swarm
4. Multicellular Savgery
5. Echoes From Beyond
6. Tortured Winds
8. Sacrificial Evolution
9. Putrid Dwelling
10. Decaying Realms
Total Playing Time: 30:34
I’m pretty great. Just ask me, I’ll tell ya.