Artist: Open Womb
Album: Kingdom Come
This is an odd question for 95% of this article’s readership, but have you ever seen a late trimester abortion? The bloodied, empty remnants of what once was a blossoming seed of human life? To see what was once someone’s son—someone’s daughter or someone’s something be reduced, irreverently to “failed products of conception”?
If you haven’t, that’s fine—you’re probably better for it. It’s a poetically awful thing to see a diagnosis go from “abnormal uterine bleeding” to “threatened pregnancy” to…well, death. And if you’ve never seen it, you’ll definitely have heard it by the time you listen to Kingdom Come, the debut full-length record by sort-of-blackened, pretty-brutal-but-also-atmospheric-blackened-slamming-something-or-another band, Open Womb. Genre labeling aside, this act’s album has been years in the making for good purpose. Kingdom Come crushes the listener under a ten ton weight of terror and violence. Using haunting atmosphere and bludgeoning brutality to hammer home a conceptual series of tracks that depict terror and depravity at their most pure, Open Womb live up to the grim, grisly implications their name makes.
Open Womb is a monstrous effort by any definition, but especially when considering it is the product of only two individuals. Every song Kingdom Come bestows upon the listener is an experience of grim, soul-smothering horror that desiccates the human spirit of any sort of levity. “A Feather and Crown,” the group’s debut single from the release is an excellent example of this, with roaring drums that serve as a baseline from which noisy, chaotic riffs lash forth, cutting deep gashes into the listener with every groove. Even the optimistically named “Lightbearer” fails to do what its name might otherwise imply—instead serving as one of the most ruthless and aggressive snippets Kingdom Come has to offer. As it stands, the album’s shorter cuts tend to work that way, beating the living Hell out of the listener with slamming breakdowns and primitive, punishing riffs that leave little room for technicality in their mission for leaving the listener bewildered by three-to-four minutes of pure terror. The album’s longer tracks—“Relic of Flesh” being one of them—serve as lessons in atmosphere, wherein the band’s instrumental effort is focused less on being straight up pissed and more on creating something immersive that the listener’s head can stew in. Needless to say, they’re successful—with “Relic of Flesh” and the other more epic and sprawling tracks on Kingdom Come’s impressive near-hour runtime keeping the listener immersed for their duration. When it comes to Open Womb’s sound and style, they use a variety of tactics—from atosmpheric to pure aggression—to blend deathcore, death metal, slamming brutal death metal and doom metal into a thick, dense and toxic amalgam of ten-ton terror.
Kingdom Come’s instrumentation is the starting place for Open Womb’s oppressive vocal effort. While the band’s vocals might not align themselves with the “legends” of the brutal death metal scene or of contemporary deathcore’s myriad household-name frontmen, they are thoroughly authentic and provide an insanely unique voice for Kingdom Come’s riveting story. “Mortal Harvest” sees over five minutes of vocal dynamism, ranging from shrill, screeching highs to gut-busting low bellows, just as “Lightbearer” serves as a somewhat consistent and crushing display of gutturals and other grisly styles in the low register. The take-home point is that Open Womb’s vocals are certainly dynamic and diverse enough to hold their own, adding a distinct flair to the band’s sound that allows them to stand out from the cookie-cutter “tunnel lows” and “zombie highs” that dominate the “mainstream” of –core music culture.
Kingdom Come is an impressive undertaking when it comes to blending genres and creating something that is just as much an experience as it a collection of ass-beating mosh anthems. Open Womb’s debut into the heavy music community has been years coming, but well worth the wait, with Kingdom Come hitting home in a way few will expect, and in a way that heavy music could very much use.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, Ingested, Devourment, Clawhammer
By: Connor Welsh