Superstition made an impression with their demo Surging Throng of Evil’s Might at the beginning last year, cementing their status early as another promising addition to U.S. death metal. This year they’ve followed up that demo with their first full-length The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation which takes their dynamic take on old-school death metal influences and offers more of everything. It’s the type of release that reminds you why so many records from the genre’s earlier days excited on that first listen, pulling in a broad range of influences without falling too closely to one particular band.
The album starts off in appropriate fashion with instrumentation that’s as creepy and grimy as you can get in death metal, immediately drenching you in a thick atmosphere that makes it feel like you’ve wandered directly into a crypt. From there Superstition launches into their attack with fast riffing and quick transitions that bring to mind a slew of death metal and death/thrash influences. There’s a dynamic feel to the flow of each song as they weave between breakneck speeds and haunting melodies, and while the base making up each one does come across as a bit similar there’s enough substance to differentiate each one. There’s a lot of different influences that you can pick out while listening ranging from old-school American, European, and even South American groups, but what’s great is Superstition hints at a lot of your favorite death metal acts without ever sounding exactly like any of them. The recording is well-balanced between raw energy and atmosphere, as the melodic elements are given enough space to expand and reach a room-filling scale. The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation comes in at a brisk thirty-four minutes but it uses that shorter run time to avoid filler, with the interludes serving to draw you in further rather than acting as a deterrent.
Superstition’s vocals come through as a mid-range scream that’s drenched in just the right touch of reverb, allowing each word to boom out over the instrumentation with an immense amount of force. It’s the type of pitch that at times sounds genuinely manic and possessed, as if the singer is about to come through your speakers and grab you by the throat, and when it comes to death metal that definitely adds to the appeal. The separation between vocals and instrumentals allows the screaming to come through even more than on the demo, and it makes a pretty significant difference in just how much power each track can generate.
They may be not be reinventing any particular element in the genre, but when a band blurs the line between 80s/90s death metal and death/thrash with riffs of this quality I’m certainly not complaining. A few of the songs do seem to pull from some similar templates but there’s enough diversity to the performance to keep listeners coming back, plus the short run-time keeps the material at its most potent level. Another highlight for American death metal this year, and where some bands have stumbled slightly from their demo to debut Superstition has only gotten better. The Anatomy of Unholy Transformationis out now from 20 Buck Spin.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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