Romanian quintet Rancorum pledge their axes to the gods of old-school death metal. And what a helluva debut record they have crafted!
“The Vermin Shrine” is plain, intoxicating death metal done the classic way. The guitars sound raw and punishingly loud, as soon as the first chugging riff fades in the mix. The production is deliberately dirty, primitive, without seeming lackluster or an amateur job. Both guitars, vocals and drums have their say as they blast in your ears, and only the bass is left sounding a little bit too low.
Clocking in under the 40-minute mark, the six songs that make up “The Vermin Shrine” are nevertheless lengthy death-metal tracks, ranging between five and eight minutes. Labeling “The Vermin Shrine” as “plain death metal” doesn’t mean that the songs are plain and boring. Despite their length, all of the compositions have quite a distinct mark, and after a few spins of the album, you’ll be able to tell which one is coming next. Opener “Voidification” is a belligerent death march that immediately calls for headbanging. Next track “Bedlam of Saints” is a d-beat inspired tornado, with lyrics relating to the recent scandal of pedophilia which broke in the (ever-pious) Catholic Church. Things cool down just a little bit in “Nadiral”, before hellfire is picked up again in the thrash metal anthem “The Shining”.
The Vermin Shrine closes with its two biggest tracks, “Towards Below” and the homonymous “The Vermin Shrine”, both lasting over 7 minutes. While the two songs keep the record’s charisma and are as well-crafted as the previous ones, putting these brooding death metal monsters back to back as album closers might not have been the best choice. Leaving the greater havoc behind, our attention tends to drift away from the music in the middle of the 15 minutes of slower-paced heaviness.
Despite its minor flaws, “The Vermin Shrine” is definitely a big thumbs up recommendation for any lover of extreme soundscapes. Our heads have turned to Bucharest with this record, eagerly anticipating what Rancorum will forge up next.