Another day, another death metal kicking to savor. CORDYCEPS already sounded like the finished article on their 2017 EP "Black Blood Butchery", but "Betrayal" is a far more devastating statement of intent. Brutal death metal doesn't generally facilitate progressive ideas, and there's a lot to be said for the remorseless, jugular-targeting approach that many more generic bands adopt, but there's a wickedly sludgy and barbarous edge to this Las Vegas crew's sound that sets them apart from the formulaic hordes. Coupled with a penchant for creepy interludes, cobwebbed ambience and occasional detours into malevolent, post-metal shadows, that sludginess makes the likes of "The Abyss" and "Comatose Subservient" sound warped and unsettling, even as blasts and lumbering beatdowns do their expected, violent thing.
There's plenty of technicality on display too, but CORDYCEPS are not one of those viciously nailed-to-the-grid modern death metal bands: there's a swagger and a faint hint of sloppiness in the churning horrors of "Maelstrom of Hypocrisy" and the scorched-meat lurch of the title track, pointing to a kinship with IMMOLATION, AUTOPSY, INCANTATION and other masters of the arcane arts. "Cesspool of the Vicious" marries dissonant thrash riffs and off-kilter grooves to bursts of all-out guttural blitzkrieg and grim, grinding riffs worthy of DEVOURMENT at their murderous best. The tempo switches and Panzer-pummel of "Parasitic Degenerate" offer another pointed nod to the deathly old school, and here, vocalist (and drummer!) Rafael Gonzalez gargles vitriol over some of the ugliest riffs since SUFFOCATION's "Effigy of the Forgotten". Tellingly, the closing "Black Mass" is the album's boldest and best track: a rumbling, destructive spiral of juddering discord and abyssal fury that will tick all of your blood-spattered boxes while giving you fresh nightmares to relish.
Therein lies the joy of records like this: death metal is in excellent health right now, and whether you want purity or progress, there are plenty of bands out there doing subtly subversive things with the noises we all know and love. CORDYCEPS will satisfy death metal heads' primal desires, but they're nudging persistently and potently at the genre's boundaries at the same time.