Trog- Horrors Beyond (Album Review)

July 1, 2024


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Looking at the cover for Trog’s Horrors Beyond, you might be expecting the New Jersey based band to sound either like Sanguisugabogg and their Troma influenced brutal death metal/slam or other US old-school death metal that was gore adjacent.  There’s definitely some of the latter present in what the band has to offer on their full-length debut, but it’s evident while listening that Trog has attempted to branch out a bit more with shifts into melodic death metal and even a little black metal.  It’s a strong effort from a still relatively new band, and while there remains room to tighten things up Trog is worth keeping an eye on.

2022’s Of Vomit Reborn EP already showcased this group wasn’t content with simply writing one variant of old-school death metal and calling it a day, as their core sound pulled from the groove laden and methodical American style but had some unexpected shifts into cleaner and adventurous leads.  Horrors Beyond builds on this not only through the writing, but also thanks to a massive jump in production values that make the details easier to flesh out.  Where its predecessor had a slightly murkier and cavernous sound, the clarity here allows for the melodic leads and other nuances to stand out without taking away from the blunt force of the low end.  Trog makes it clear early on they’re still very old-school oriented, as following a very short intro “Deluge of Skulls” comes in like a battering ram with an ominous lead and faster blasting that eventually gives way to some mid-tempo grooves.  Even at their most bludgeoning it’s hard to say that the instrumentation is adhering too close to one classic template, as my ears hear both Swedish and American influence in equal capacity.  As you make your way further into Horrors Beyond the sound expands further, and while there’s still plenty of chugging and brutality the subtle injection of melodic leads and solos goes a long way into making the songs a bit more distinguishable.  Sometimes the tempos and use of melody moves things a bit closer to melodic death metal territory, with Trog capturing a bit more of that Dismember feel in similar fashion to the latest Gatecreeper album.  But there are also some slight hints of black metal to the tonality too, which gives off more of an early Swedish blackened death metal vibe as well.  All these stylistic flourishes are best captured on nine-minute closer “Ontological Shock”, which initially goes for a slower groove before transitioning into a powerful fast paced section that has equal amounts of melodic and blackened death metal to the tonality.  Admittedly the first half of this song drags a bit, but it makes up for it with an intense and varied second half that incorporates a lot more synth compared to the rest of the album.  This is an element I’d like to hear more of, as aside from this track they’re mostly reserved for intros and outros.  A few of the shorter tracks also felt a bit similar with how they moved from grooves into faster attacks, but even with these minor flaws there was plenty here to keep me coming back for more.

The instrumentation may capture a wide range of death metal styles, but vocalist Pete Colucci keeps things firmly on the old-school side of the spectrum.  He has a lower pitched and cavernous growl that is distorted enough to give off a more monstrous and inhuman tone, and with the production values the vocals tend to hover just above the rest of the band.  There are some backing shrieks and screams courtesy of drummer Hudson Barth, but these tend to be a bit more washed out and sometimes blend in with the guitar work.  It’s a bit more straightforward of a vocal approach when compared to some of the other recent death metal bands I’ve listened to that tried to frequently switch up the highs and lows, but the consistency of the performance and how much power is behind every word is appreciated.  Sometimes there’s a little bit of Corpsegrinder era Cannibal Corpse to the pitch, while other moments give off more of a Grave or even Sinister vibe, which is sure to draw in fans of those groups.  Plus, you may recognize the gurgles of William Smith (Afterbirth, ex-Artificial Brain) on “The Void” which is a nice inclusion.

With its cool and gory cover art, you may go into Trog’s full-length debut expecting something straightforward that emphasizes brutality over everything else.  But it goes a bit further than that, tapping into some 90s melodic and blackened death metal from Sweden alongside the brute force of earlier American death metal, which makes for some standout moments.  There is still room to further shake up the formula of how the melodic side blends with the traditional, especially on the shorter tracks, and I wouldn’t mind a bit more synth, but this album has proven far more interesting than the average meat and potatoes death metal that comes across my desk on a weekly basis.  Seeing as they’ve only been around for about five years (originally under the name Troglorot) and each release has been a significant jump forward, I expect even bigger things the next time we hear from Trog.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg