Subterraen Premiere “Blood for the Blood Gods”; Rotten Human Kingdom out Nov. 20

subterraen (Photo by William Lacalmontie)

Set to release Nov. 20, Subterraen‘s debut album, Rotten Human Kingdom, is furious in atmosphere and execution alike. The French three-piece, releasing through Transcending Obscurity Records, are ostensibly death-doom, but only as much as that tag applies to anything crawling and miserable. In truth, their four-song/48-minute offering brings richer stylization incorporating elements from skin-peeler sludge and black metal, and is shy neither about blasts nor feedback to go along with its extended sections of nod and excruciating wretchedness. Whatever genre tag one might want to apply to Rotten Human Kingdom — I even hear some of YOB‘s “Quantum Mystic” shortly past the middle of “For a Fistful of Silver” — the album sounds as though it is trying to claw its way beyond such designations into a purer form of extremity.

Environmental themes persist, but one finds an element of social comment to Rotten Human Kingdom as well. Of course, most of the lyrics are indecipherable in their rasping screams, the name of the record and titles like the opener “Blood for the Blood subterraen rotten human kingdomGods” and “For a Fistful of Silver” can be read as critique of the capitalist order, specifically tying to the subsequent ambient breather “Oceans are Rising” and the 18-minute finale “Wrath of a Downtrodden Planet” in the way industry, agriculture, and humanity in general harms the planet in pursuit of profit. Whatever one reads in Subterraen‘s lurching punishment through the first 14 minutes of that closer, there’s no question as to the severity of the band’s approach. They are steeped in ambient murk and coated in a filth of their own making, and as each extended piece works from shorter to longer, they seem only to dig further and further downward into it.

With the unveiling below of the 13:28 “Blood for the Blood Gods,” a crucial piece of Rotten Human Kingdom comes to light, and not just because it’s the first track on the record. It’s also the rawest look Subterraen give throughout. Not entirely without melody, it doesn’t touch on the mournfulness to come in the finisher or the charge of “For a Fistful of Silver” or even the subdued instrumental creep of “Oceans are Rising,” but instead, its harshness presents a brutality that transcends tempo, and its wash of noise and low distortion becomes the trap that the rest of what follows holds you within.

Call it punishment as much as portrayal, but Rotten Human Kingdom‘s indictment comes through clearly either way.


Subterraen, “Blood for the Blood Gods” official track premiere

French sludge/doom metal band Subterraen carry the torch of the style on the label, following the ponderous steps of the giants Eremit and Jupiterian. In comparison however, they add their own blackened grit and weighed down heaviness to the proceedings, crafting 10+ minute songs narrating epic, anguish-ridden tales of the slow destruction of the planet and sowing seeds of the inexorable vengeance of mother nature. The emotions are palpable not only in the harrowing cries of the vocalist but also from the palpitating, heaving music that functions as the body of this ancient beast. There is an honest rawness to it all and a dank, earthly vibe that resonates with the sandalwood fragrance emanating from the physical products, with a wooden, coffin-shaped box to go with it. From ashes to ashes, from dust to dust.

Artwork by Adam Burke (Lurk, Coexistence, Atræ Bilis)

Track listing –
1. Blood for the Blood Gods (13:28)
2. For a Fistful of Silver (14:31)
3. Oceans are Rising (2:35)
4. Wrath of a Downtrodden Planet (18:22)

Line up –
Clem Helvete – Guitar and Vocals
Chris KKP – Guitar
Milvus – Drums

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Transcending Obscurity Records website

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