Oppressive Descent - Official Website

Sulfuric Wrath

United States Country of Origin: United States

1. Intro / Grief Of Immortals
2. Forbidden Lands
3. Chains Rattling Beneath The Floor
4. Dispiritized
5. Apparition
6. Ancient Fury
7. Sulfuric Wrath
8. Reprisal
9. The Winds That Bloody My Path

Review by Fernando on April 29, 2024.

The raw vampyric black metal trend that emerged in the late 2010’s and hit a fever pitch during the pandemic years saw a glut of black metal that was, let’s say aggressively inspired by Les Légions Noires from France. While the concept of raw black metal as a style wasn’t new at all, as there were many projects that delved into noisy and necro production since at least the early 2000’s in an attempt to bring black metal back to the dungeons (bedrooms with a 4-track). Unfortunately this trend got very stale, very quickly, and many labels would push these projects non-stop on social media.

Which brings me to Oppressive Descent, an Oregon-based project by Grond Nefarious that predated the whole raw black metal trend, but started releasing music at a prolific rate around the same time those bedroom vampires started to drown Bandcamp with overpriced “ultra-limited” cassettes. However, Oppressive Descent is not like those projects, nor was Grond Nefarious riding the wave, in fact, his music stands alone, and in 2024, he unleashed his fifth opus Sulfuric Wrath via Inferna Profundus Records.

Oppressive Descent can be considered one of those bands that feels like a well kept secret, since not many people know about this project, but those that do speak highly of it, and with good reason, as Grond Nefarious’ style of black metal is both bleak and punishing. The music on Sulfuric Wrath in particular while raw and noisy, isn’t incompetently made nor does it use rawness as an artificial facsimile, this is how black metal should sound and feel; cold and hostile, despondent and arrogant. The guitar riffs switch back and forth between aggressive tremolo picking, and forlorn melodies, the vocals are rabid and wretched, the bass is an ominous pulse, the keyboards add a layer of subdued ambiance to emphasize the rest of the strings and the drumming sounds crushing and violent.

Overall it has all the best hallmarks of classic black metal, while also sounding wholly unique, Grond Nefarious’ influences are noticeable but he isn’t beholden to them, the keen eared will probably hear Norwegian styled desolate grimness akin to early Satyricon and Darkthrone, while also adding the same cavernous brutality one could find in bands like Archgoat and Beherit, and on top of that, Nefarious adds his own flare with an overall depressive and suffocating atmosphere that perfectly synthesizes the bestial black metal styled aggression with the cold atmospherics of second wave black metal, but more interestingly, the album also has a sense of dark melodicism that, if not for the raw sound and distortion would’ve fitted perfectly on early Mercyful Fate, which isn’t surprising since King Diamond’s influence in black metal cannot be understated, and the music also has a punk attitude that’s oftentimes missing in other projects.

So, if it wasn’t obvious this is a black metal record by a guy who knows his shit, but also has the talent to make something unique, and I really can’t sing Grond Nefarious’ praises enough, his songwriting is truly outstanding on a level that’s very scarce as of late, and this album in particular shows his most concise work yet, while the songs aren’t as long as previous records, that’s to the music’s advantage, as G.N. is able to pack this relative average length songs with as much force as possible, for example, while the album opens with an appropriately depressive instrumental track that morphs into a mid-paced wall of sound dirge, it’s followed by ‘Forbidden Lands’ which in turn starts as a lurching death march but then turns into a display of pure aggression and speed, and those 2 tracks really give you a sense of how the album unfolds, and the music’s dynamics from forceful speed to desolate atmospheres never once feel cobbled together or boring.

While G.N. is no slouch as a multi-instrumentalist, but, for this record he wasn’t alone, as the excellent drumming was done by Disdain aka Joe Arida, and he really gives the music that little extra sense of hostility required, and Nefarious’ bandmate from Malus Votum Goatlord provides additional guitars on the album’s opener and closer, and he is also a welcome addition to the record as his guest guitars enhance the sombreness of the album.

To close off I want to highlight the production for a moment because this record is a display of a gritty production done right and in a way that truly enhances the music instead of being a detriment to it. The production also comes courtesy from Grond Nefarious, handling the entire recording and mixing, as well as the mastering. And it goes without saying, the man truly understands black metal inside and out. The sound is appropriately cold and raw, but you can still make out each instrument amid the walls of noise, even the vocals which do sound as if they were poorly recorded, actually compliment the music perfectly, and the crushed distortion and reverb make G.N. sound even more unhinged and inhuman. It really goes without saying but this is indeed how a raw production should sound, as it’s authentic to the artist’s intent while also matching and enhancing the music.

Oppressive Descent has not only continued to be a consistent and admirable project, but this is their best album yet in an enviable back catalog of quality black metal that has all the elements one could want in black metal, whilst also being a unique voice in a see of copyists, and for that alone this is one of my favorite black metal records of this year.

Rating: 10 out of 10