Combining the virulent strains of death and black metal shouldn’t be too much of a problem given how many traits they share, so it’s surprising how many bands make an utter balls-up of this endeavour; often sacrificing the quirks and intricacies of both genres in favour of jacking up the brutality and hoping it will cover the cracks. Thankfully Texas quartet Hod aren’t one of them, for their sophomore album Book of the Worm (Arctic Music Group) manages to be both mercilessly extreme and gripping enough to make this a match made in heaven (hell).
Propelled along by the seemingly endless array of face-melting riffs courtesy of guitarist Carl“Lord Necron” Snyder, Hod never risk losing the listener’s attention, especially seeing as the album only lasts a mere 34 minutes. Effortless shifting between scything black metal guitar workouts like on coruscating album opener ‘When the Ghouls Feed’ to the late 80s US grindcore vibes of ‘Den of Wolves’, the atmosphere never dips below aggressive as fuck, and the frequent nods to the origins of the genres where writing actual songs was a pre-requisite will stretch a grin across the face of anyone who likes their extreme metal to be both catchy and brutal.
The avalanche of grim grandeur that is ‘Through the Gates (They Come For Me)’ is the kind of pure Satanic violence that Deicide used to pen when they were still scary, while the simplistic blasting fury of ‘Under Tyranny’s Hammer’ will delight those who wear Black Witchery shirts and attend Nuclear War Now! Festival every year. Simply put, Book of the Worm has something for everyone and is an instantly enjoyable snapshot of the extreme metal underground in both the US and beyond.