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Back in 2013, Pyrrhon vocalist and former Invisible Oranges editor Doug Moore wrote vividly and hilariously about Death Metal English, the inscrutable chosen dialect of death metal bands since time immemorial. He cited examples from bands like Wormed (“Multivectorial Reionization”), Impetuous Ritual (“Convoluting unto Despondent Anachronism”), and Nile (“Chapter of Obeisance Before Giving Breath to the Inert One in the Presence of the Crescent-Shaped Horns”). “If you write like you are some kind of ancient, ageless force who is unfamiliar with modern grammatical conventions,” Moore’s treatise contends, “you are probably pretty evil.”
Great advances have been made in the field of Death Metal English since 2013, none more notable than the creation of an ever-growing atlas of death metal locales; 2015 brought the unearthing of Charnel Passages, followed in 2017 by the discovery of the Eroded Corridors of Unbeing. (One could take either route to get to the Manor of Infinite Forms.) In 2018, Pennsylvania’s Outer Heaven scrawled their names on the death metal map with their Realms of Eternal Decay, and now, they’re back with a plunge into the Infinite Psychic Depths. Those who got confused and wound up being Disgorged from Psychotic Depths back in 2018 are surely relieved that their intended destination has finally been unveiled.
Outer Heaven are undoubtedly experts in Death Metal English. But they’re also experts in death metal, full stop. Infinite Psychic Depths plays like a supercut of everything the genre excels at. The muscular, meaty riffing of guitarists Jon Kunz and Zak Carter is the center of the album’s universe, as it should be. Death metal lives and dies by the riff, and Kunz and Carter have assembled quite the arsenal. Whether they’re pounding away at chunky, hardcore-inspired parts or sliding down the fretboard to instigate some melodic carnage, they sound totally in control. Just as impressive is the nimble rhythm section of drummer Paul Chrismer and bassist Derrick Vella—also of Canadian greats Tomb Mold, perhaps Outer Heaven’s closest analogue. Chrismer and Vella are tight without sounding like they’re locked to a grid. The movement and groove that are so crucial to the album start with their lively, dialed-in playing. (Frontman Austin Haines, no slouch himself, sounds absolutely fucking disgusting, in the best way possible.)
But it’s the fluidity of the band’s arrangements, and the ease with which they glide between tempos and textures, that makes Infinite Psychic Depths a true standout. In a modern death metal scene rife with bands who are slavishly devoted to one specific element of the genre—Entombed’s Swedeath buzzsaw, Autopsy’s punkish lurch, Mortician’s brutal stomp—it’s refreshing to hear Outer Heaven refrain from outright hero worship. (Guest appearances from members of Pig Destroyer, Morbid Angel, Undeath, Rivers of Nihil, and Churchburn hint at the breadth of the band’s metal collections.) Infinite Psychic Depths works as a no-bullshit, fist-in-the-face death metal record, but it also frequently zigs when you think it’s going to zag. In Death Metal English parlance, you might say Outer Heaven’s wretched utterings of insalubrious blasphemies traverse multitudinous landscapes without the strain of toil. You can also just say that they rip.