From the fetid depths of Nottingham’s catacombs comes Shrykull, a duo whose severe, wicked noise would shake the foundation of their city. Debut album Shrykull (self-released) is a sub-half-hour blast through blackened hell and pummelling Sludge which commences with the unholy ‘Plagued’: a brutal maelström preceding a morose, often funereal-paced second movement which is wonderfully controlled by William Powell’s spiked riffs and Kez Whelan’s hammer blows. Whelan’s screams cut to the the bone, never better displayed than on the rampant ‘Deafened By The Echo’, Powell’s ireful guitar buzz covering the frantic yet controlled battery.
The production here is fizzing, muddy and deliciously dank, which suits ‘Beneath The Murk’ perfectly. Here Powell’s foul larynx gets a workout, seeping over a lumbering troll of a bedrock, before the quickening sees Whelan’s harrowing shriek resume responsibility – arguably the highlight of the album, it is a rough-cut diamond which shines through the bleak night. ‘IBT’, meanwhile, is an intense rampage which shows Whelan’s drumming expertise: able to switch pace on a sixpence yet retain unfathomable power. Powell moves with him, veering from crushing riff to lightning buzzsaw in tandem with his bandmate.
‘Life Of Solitude’ begins as pure Black Metal, the resonant production enhancing the rapid needles shredding the skin, while the second-half breakdown adds poignancy. ‘Destroy The Hivemind’ sounds exactly how that title suggests it should: a furious swarm of hornets fighting against a Rock ‘n’ Roll beat as if Darkthrone was executing a Motörhead cover, with some Hammett-style riffage thrown in for good measure.
The monstrous power and weight of closer ‘Fuck The Planet’, complete with its evil laugh, displays the essence of Shrykull: darkened hearts, fulminating consciences, an alarming noise and a determination to slow things down on occasion, to add invention and depth. Shrykull is a powerful statement which affirms the duo as much more than a side-project: given time they may just mount a very serious challenge.