Death metal is having something of a resurgence at the moment, with new genre classics being released by young bands like Gatecreeper, Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation in the last few years. With their debut album Hypnagogic Hallucinations, Italy’s Bedsore have joined those acts as one of the vanguard of the new wave.
Despite having a name which may make you think of gore metal, the band are much more of a progressive beast. Like their 20 Buck Spin label mates Ghastly, Bedsore blend classic death metal with a myriad of different genres to create something unique. Following their acclaimed two track demo, Hypnagogic Hallucinations is a powerful opening salvo as it weaves everything from psychedelia, prog rock and synth atmospherics into a tapestry of cosmic horror.
Instrumental opening track, ‘The Gate, Disclosure’ sounds like John Carpenter jamming with Pink Floyd and Morbid Angel, veering as it does from bludgeoning riffs to eerie synth passages before segueing straight into the OSDM of the first song proper, ‘The Gate, Closure – Sarcoptes Obitus’. The band have a grasp of melody that you don’t always find in death metal, with guitarists Jacopo Gianmaria Pepe and Stefano Allegretti deftly switching between the beautiful and the grotesque over the course of the album. The oddly named ‘Cauliflower Growth’ is a prime example of this, interchanging pummelling death metal riffing with haunting, melodic passages.
The centrepiece of the album is the Lovecraft-inspired ‘At the Mountains of Madness’. Having previously appeared on the band’s two-track demo, it’s been given a lush rerecording here that really showcases the band’s strengths. Opening with space rock-esque guitars and organ, it then morphs into a pounding thrasher, before settling again into woozey death-doom. The band’s grasp of mood and tone is exceptional throughout the nine-minute epic as it conjures up images of eldritch dread.
There isn’t a dud track on the album. ‘Deathgazer’ channels the spirit of bands like Obituary and Autopsy, while also adding in some Chuck Schuldiner-esque soloing. ‘Disembowlment of the Souls-Tabanidae’ has a powerful, mid-tempo crunch with hints of black metal, while the closing track ‘Brains on the Tarmac’ (another rerecording from their demo) is a huge sounding, cathartic epic that rounds off the album perfectly.
The sheer quality of this album and the scale of its vision prove that Bedsore are set to become one of the leading (dead)lights in death metal. While they’ve set themselves a pretty high standard to beat, we can’t wait to hear what the band do next.
Hypnagogic Hallucinations is out now on 20 Buck Spin. Order here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader