From the Depths - _From the Depths_
(Dismal Records, 1996)
by: Henry Akeley (7 out of 10)
Not to be confused with the Italian black metal band of the same name, these guys hail from Cleveland, and their self-titled CD is a cool release that mixes black metal's appreciation for atmosphere with the styles of sonic brutality usually associated with the death and death/grind scenes. The band alternates freely and rapidly between the riffing and vocal styles of black and death metal, while the percussion is generally played and recorded in more of a death/grind style. Keyboards are brought in occasionally, and at the right times, adding creepy vibes without dominating the sound. The lyrics are also worth mentioning: they're entertaining little horror stories which are actually driven by plot, as opposed to the inane repetition of gore cliches, or the now-standard confused and garbled attempts to mix christian satanism with old pagan religions. The songs themselves contain lots of instantly memorable sections, especially "It Lurks", the raging title track, and "Curse of the Scarecrow". (The latter song gets two thumbs up - way up! - for actually mentioning my mighty home state of Iowa by name. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Norse and Swedish hordes.) Why, then, haven't I rated the CD a bit higher? Well, for one, I think the songs are overly dominated by the lyrics. This band can definitely smoke, but most of the time, by far, they're just providing the vocalist with a riff to sing (or narrate) over. Longer, more involved instrumental passages between vocal parts would really add impact to the compositions, I think. So would more and louder guitar in the mix. Regardless, this is likable and fairly unique.

(article published 4/2/1997)

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