6 Feb 2014

Fathomhell - Non Pietatem Erit [EP] (2012, Runenstein Records)

I have previously reviewed Balmog and Amnion from Spain, but the country itself is hardly known for its black metal scene. Perhaps it has something to do with the sunny weather, although the country's economic crisis in recent years and its towering youth unemployment rates should provide enough frustration, drive and lyrical material to go around. Or maybe those subjects are instead fueling thrash metal, punk and grindcore bands. Who knows. In any case there is something intriguing and exciting about extreme metal bands from unlikely places, and if black metal from Spain isn't an unlikely match I don't know what is.

Non Pietatem Erit is thus far Fathomhell's only release. The duo started in 2010 and by 2012 had their first EP ready, centered around a cold atmosphere with a small amount of modernity added through the use of sparsely used synths and carefully programmed drums. More often than not programmed drumming is a product of laziness and as such often sounds completely terrible and poorly thought through. A few bands can bear this simplistic, inhuman, cold and mechanical approach, but most bands cannot. But with Fathomhell the drumming really isn't an issue; It feels thoroughly worked through and well-considered, and above all it is commendably well-integrated.

This is not the only feat of Non Pietatem Erit, obviously. The sounds brought forth by the Spanish duo is that of a traditional approach to black metal without leaning decisively on any regional sound. It proposes glimpses into the melodic side of black metal, followed by deluges of distortion and blast beats, all neatly arranged into immaculate sequences. The track Illusions of Death reaches for titanic and epic magnificence with one of Fathomhell's most ambitious riffs, while "Devours the Light, Eats their Soul" goes a more traditional way with uninterrupted grittiness.

The overall expression of Fathomhell's music is pretty good, although a tad bit ordinary. Even when they're feeling adventurous they're still just clinging to the same vestiges of melodic black metal. Even if the EP is well-crafted it feels like they're playing it safe and as a result comes across as completely inoffensive. Only rarely does Fathomhell break the veil of inocuousness, and whenever this happens it only leaves the listener with a feeling of wanting this part to play a bigger role in the grand scheme of things. 7/10 guitars.

1. Intro ad Tartarum
2. Devours the Light, Eats their Souls
3. Illusions of Death
4. Fall to the Infinite Depths of Abyss
5. Dante's Inferno
6. Fathom Hell

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