Hyperdontia - Nexus of Teeth - (8.5/10)
Published on November 5, 2018
Emerging from the rotting depths of both Denmark and Turkey, Hyperdontia made a name for themselves last year with an impressive line-up of primarily darker death metal practitioners with members having been involved with Decaying Purity, Engulfed, Apparatus, Taphos, Sulphurous, Undergang, Wormridden among others. More importantly, they debuted with a two-song demo of distinctly old school inspired death metal that while flawed in its somewhat hasty songwriting demonstrated potential in a style that melded American and European tendencies in a mix of fluidity and raw power. A year later and these veteran musicians have mostly repaired the holes in their putrid armour. The promise of a short demo has been transformed into a devastating full length that reminds the public that there’s far more to the idea of “old school” than hollow odes to has-been movements.
The sound of this five piece is best described as methodical in its execution. Carefully phrased rhythms shift and morph over steady and subtly detailed drumming, altering between tempos and riff shapes with a serpentine fluidity. It’s varied in tempo and pacing though with a particular penchant for punchy Bolt Thrower style creeping rhythms juxtaposing sliding tremolo riffs featuring slowly rising and following melodies embedded in their veiny, pulsating flesh. While the arsenal will be familiar to 90’s veterans, the band vary it up by letting melodies rise out of the decaying bodies of dirty chords and flesh-gorging tremolo riffing like clouds of corpse-hunting insects. A gurgling, half buried voice disaffectedly narrates these macabre tales of bodily deformation and misery, reverberating behind the rest of the instrumentation like some horrific nocturnal noise emanating from the basement five floors below. It might be a little hard to notice at first due to the mixing and relatively subdued performance yet it suits the coldly uncaring vibe of the music perfectly, apathetic to the horrors encapsulated within. Punctuated this is a careful series of subtle cymbal accents and compact fills, truly shining when the band enters slow-burning tempos. The performance on the kit displays a keen ear for accenting raw rhythmic power, creating subterranean tremors amidst the dense soundscape of the band’s low register slithering. The emphasis is on emphasizing and reinforcing the sense of momentum and building upon quickly mounting tension even when the band aren’t at their fastest.
It could be described as “doomy”, “atmospheric” even, but Hyperdontia’s style is refreshingly riff driven and light on spacious floaty chord pretense or trudging plod-centric songcraft, built on carefully honed fundamentals put to use in a distinctly contemporary fashion. Underneath the gnashing, slowly rotting contempt is a Cruciamentum-like focus on gradually using straightforward tremolo riffs as a platform to implement wider varieties of technique and pacing, letting lengthier lead patterns flow through paired sets of themes and sharply morphing away from established concepts at key moments between lengthier single string and beefier densely chorded technique. There’s a surprising level of finesse involved, not of a technical sort but rather knowing when to switch up and organically transition momentum between riffs and how to change the drum patterns underneath to appropriately accent this. If you broke this album just into its individual parts it wouldn’t be particularly impressive yet its mastery comes from how all of this comes together; seemingly humble drum playing works in the long term to create a sense of unflinching intensity and power while those deliciously morbid tremolo patterns as a whole only partially melt together, each one feeling like an extension of some grand, groping, putrid limb looking for an unaware soul to strangle and crush. The feral destructive nature of the classic death metal that inspired them reshaped into an insidiously strategic and cunning spirit borne of a distinctly contemporary background.
The best death metal bands however are more than the mere power of their baseline aesthetic. Hyperdontia’s reverence of past greats goes beyond merely just being able to create an authentic set of techniques but also how they organize their songs. Each one is comprised of a collection of similar-yet-different riffs at first sound disjointed and tenuously pieced together yet as they unfurl the specific roles played by each one becomes clearer. The denser crunchier chords serve as a rigid foundation out of which rapidly tunnelling riffs can emerge and add perverse melodies to the skeletal structure set out for them like flesh being attached to a synthetic skeletal frame. Each track begins with a clearly communicated theme played through either of two methods but slash, rip, tear, and deform it through these two stylistic contrasts. Tempos and phrasings changing frequently and frequently eerie harmonies are laced through the riffing but most importantly they all touch on different stylistic facets of the core opening theme, viciously pulling it apart as they explore every rancid orifice and strip of exposed flesh. Some themes reappear, reattached to the central body to provide a sense of overall consistency but rather than choosing to cycle through themselves again, these re-established riffs tend to branch off into unexpected new growths, rupturing out of quasi-comfortable familiarity to keep up the sense of ever-mutating intrusive threat that pervades all 34 minutes of this album. In spite of this, the music never sounds very frenetic even at blast speed tempo; a sense of careful deliberation pervades each song with every riff tailor made to play a specific role and serve as its own little chapter in these perverse tales.
Nexus of Teeth is every bit as vomit inducing as the oral nightmare that is its highly memorable cover art yet once you go past the fetid bacteria-ridden tissue into the bile-filled organs within, more than mere disgust awaits. This all-star collaboration of Danish, Turkish, and Polish musicians combines their experiences from all variety of extremity into a coherent vessel; a strong example of a “supergroup” that truly lives up to the expectations of all the talent involved. It’s one of the most idiosyncratically ordered metal releases of this year, defying expectations of what classic style death metal is supposed to sound like while simultaneously sounding like a more authentic take on the so-called golden age than every other band slapping together some d-beats over leftover punk riffs draped in overblown distortion. What was once ordinary, mundane even, has been transformed from the comfortably everyday to the perverse and the sickening in a compact and efficient debut. Along with Phrenelith, Undergang, Chaotian, and even the legendary Iniquity, Hyperdontia are crafting a distinct sound, one that I hope to see them enshrined as one of the pioneers. It’s every bit as distinctive as any American, Finnish, Swedish, or even Chilean band and here’s hoping to a new generation of unclean death free from run-down tropes and weaksauce tribute acts.