Godz Ov War Productions have spewed forth some categorically pulverizing listens over the past few years, with releases such as Kingdom’s Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment and Misanthropic Rage’s Qualia being just a couple of examples of their underground supremacy. In an age where extreme metal is being combined with every genre under the sun, the label is a beacon of brutality for fans of traditional styles re-imagined for a new era. Croatia’s own Hereza, clearly a band knee deep in 90’s death metal influences, are here with the brilliantly titled I Become Death, in an attempt to propel the G.O.W.P mantle into 2017.
The first point to be made here would be that fans of a more technical persuasion may want to look elsewhere. Hereza deal strictly in grimey, full throttle DM and it’s abundantly clear the moment the searing title track kicks in, that they make no apologies for it. All savage blastbeats and deep growls, I Become Death not only envelops the listener in themes of nuclear devastation, but also churns out a surprisingly catchy chorus as well. The band continue the aural destruction, reanimating the corpse of Dismember on blinders like Homo Homini Lupus Est and the gut-punch brutality of Jebem Vas u Usta ‘ladna,
On I Become Death, Hereza owe as much to hardcore punk as they do to the first wave of Swedish Death Metal, smothering the tracks on offer here with a wall of sound-like distortion that dominates the mix, allowing just enough space for guttural roars to break through atop riotous drums. Vocalists Ivan Kovačević is particularly impressive, utilizing a low death growl ala Chris Barnes to maximum effect, whilst also letting loose a more feral howl, demonstrated on the groove-laden Uništi, Pali, Ruši .
Now for a band with such an unrelenting and basic style, an entire album of full speed ahead grinders could wear a little thin, even for the most hardened listener, but luckily the band reach into their rotting bag of tricks and divert from the road-worn formula. Granted it’s not too much of a diversion, but the Gothenberg hints of Full Moon Slaughter engage the listener in twin-lead riffs before plummeting back into the chaotic depths. Elsewhere the sluggish plod of Torn From The Death’s Bed allows the listener a head-banging pause for breath, while the shred-fest solo of In The Name of God adds some colour to band’s otherwise pitch black palette.
It seems that the very nature of a band like Hereza, with their suped-up Motorhead-meets-Entombed sound, is to play as hard and as relentlessly as possible ; but on I Become Death they not only do that and do it well, but they showcase murky layers of depth, teasing the listener with memorable ideas, before diving headfirst back into the abyss of raw, brutal death-punk. I Become Death is surely not for everyone, but for those that favor the intensities of the 90’s death metal scene, with more than just a little crust punk thrown in, Hereza might just be the band for you.