I've been listening to Australian merchants of death IGNIVOMOUS for a while now, the band's vinyl offerings spending a lot of quality time on my turntable. So it is with some glee that I welcome an actual compact disc from the band into my humble abode. "Death Transmutation" is as pure as the blackened snow in its death metal and the band should always be mentioned in the same breath as (early) INCANTATION and IMMOLATION, as well as DEAD CONCREGATION, and NECROVATION. They should also be praised for eschewing the "tion" in favor of an "ous".
Pardon me for lifting the following from IGNIVOMOUS' MySpace "About" section, but it is just too damn accurate to not pass along. "Born out of the various members' desire to see a resurgence of a dissonant, heavy style of death metal devoid of influences from grind, slam, gore, etc, but leaning towards the claustrophobic style of such albums as 'Onward to Golgotha', 'Dawn of Possession', 'Ritual of Infinity', etc; a time when death metal had not sunk into self-parody, gore-obsessed retardation and cretinous gimmicks. A time when death metal meant DEATH." Boy, they ain't kidding.
This is 40 minutes of crushing old-school death with burnt ends, smoke damage, and a pile of ash as high as the Sears Tower. It is the unholy marriage of doom and death that was spawned by the above mentioned progenitors and carried forward by a new generation of those putting the "death" (as in deceased, buying the farm, and kicking the bucket) in death metal. Good god, songs like the title track have it all; the mournful, string-bent solos, the organic drumming, the morbid guitar melodies (if you can call them that), and the shifts to sickening dirge, led by vocals that would appear to be originating from Hell's basement. When they speed they flat-out wreck the place (title track) and when they slow it down it is a bleak symphony for condemned souls, as heard during parts of "The Alchemy of Suffering". That one in particular is grand in its dark majesty, the ungodly doom riff with church-bell accent chilling and the general moroseness the stuff from which goose bumps are made. The album is not so much a collection of individual songs, but a torturous maze through pitch blackness that will make your worst nightmare seem like a teenage wet dream.
You just can't teach this stuff. It's either in you or it's a poor replica that the diehards will expose quicker than a rabbit humps. "Death Transmutation" is further proof of why Nuclear War Now! is such a revered label.