Sickening Horror are a Greek progressive death metal band, but don’t let that prog label scare you off. Overflow, their latest release, is a return to an old school death metal sound, structure, and feel.
Already on the first track we hear several different sections juxtaposed next to each other with little to no transition, yet they happen in a very natural way.
The melody is presented in an embellished manner at the start, and then we move into a solid groove. The tempo pushes into near chaos for the climax. Only after the tempo comes back down and we hit the closing section does that original melody return.
This first track contains much of what I like about this album. The band has the technique and chops to blast you with it every minute, but instead they choose where to bring it out well. It is reserved for moments that call for it.
They also have highly structured songs, but the structure is large enough and non-traditional enough (I think the first track is ABCDBA) that it might not be apparent at first. This gives a meandering feel sometimes and a chaotic feel at others but is enlightening on subsequent listens.
Their sound is pretty gritty with a healthy amount distortion present. The drum kit has a clean, raw sound to it that used to be more common. They also throw a lot of modern sounds in there as well. For instance the production is balanced so everything comes through. The bass sometimes uses a tone that I’d associated with more modern prog metal (but not always).
One of my favorite parts of this album is that a few of the songs have piano in it. I don’t mean a keyboard making sci-fi sounds like some bands. An honest piano. And it works. It is used as a texture effect, and it plays riffs that would work perfectly fine on guitar. There are a few moments where it takes the lead or becomes an integral part of the rhythm section too.
If it were used in every song, I might say it comes across as a gimmick, but its sparseness (maybe every 15 minutes?) and its use as a texture is just right. It shows the maturity of the band to use it where it felt right rather than making a whole album out of it.
Rhythmically, the album is mostly straightforward, but again, there are surprises sprinkled throughout of crazy rhythmic things. I keep returning to this idea. The band shows it can do all those things the ultra-tech death people do, but they also know how to write a solid album without it, which is even more impressive.
It may sound like the album was overthought: let’s put piano here, a quieter slower section here, a fast chaotic section here, but it doesn’t come across that way. They somehow put together a well-balanced album in which all these elements flow naturally. It isn’t as brainy as I make it sound. This is an album to be felt.
This is old school death metal with some extra elements thrown in. The only parts I didn’t like as much were some tracks in the middle which strayed into prog metal with some death metal elements. The songs worked on their own, but threw a slight consistently weirdness into the album.
Overall, I’ve loved listening to this. Great riffs, balance, textures, technique, and on the list goes. This reminds me why I used to return to Deepsend’s page for new releases. I give this a 9/10.
Here’s a sample: