Australia based Ignivomous moniker translates quite fittingly to "vomiting fire," the exact thing that the band are doing on their sophomore album Contragenesis: shooting fire and sulfur from their mouths with scorching demonic wrath. Easily one of the most sonically devastating albums of 2012, Contragenesis song writing is a strange mix of old-school sensibility and aesthetic that features a modern, warp speed presentation. Contragenesis borders on exhausting, and it's relentless nature gives Ignivomous a bit of identity that the bands debut, Incantation-and-Incantation styled Death Transmutation, an album which did not lack for brutality either but also felt far too appropriate and digestible.
Ignivomous still evoke the Old New York Gods of Incantation and Immolation in their brand of merciless Death Metal: occult themed sermons, loaded with plenty of intense tremolo picked riffs and explosive bursts of eery dissonance coupled with odd time-signatures. In this way, Contragenesis feels familiar and even a bit worn out: the whole Incantation-worship thing has been going on for seven years now and it's no longer all that interesting. It felt like Death Transmutation 2.0, without any kind of artistic progression or fresh approaches to old ideas. Contragenesis left a bad impression with me through a single listen, and it took me a bit of time to come back to it.
And I am glad that I did, because repeated listens begin to part the ancient fog and expose a sense of personal artistic direction missing from many Old School Revival acts. Contragenesis brings a healthy dose of sheer brutality to their style which helps it stand a part from the dime-a-dozen worship albums. No, I am not talking about breakdowns or chugs: Ignivomous keep everything decidedly old-school throughout. But in the vein of an early Deeds of Flesh or Gorgasm(or Angelcorpse, for those of you who could not possibly handle the comparison), Contragenesis is fucking fast and driven almost completely by the blast-beat. Both Incantation and Immolation had time for Doom-laden introspection, but Ignivomous are not interested in such silly concepts for much of Contragenesis, seeking instead to hammer points home in a flurry of riffs so thick you cannot see more than a foot in front of you. Not every track is completely relentless: "Monumental Cosmic Transgression" and the finale "The Final Cadence of Bloodshed" slow things down a bit, for a few moments anyway before the torrent commences with violent furry. Despite the occult themes, Contragenesis is not much for ambiance and ritual; it would rather just gut the listener and smash the parts that fall out with a hammer while screaming about Satan. This might seem like a detraction, but it really is a major selling point for this album; it gives Contragenesis it's own identity.
Identity is great, and Contragenesis stands as one of the better Old School Death Metal Revival albums of the year, if not the best in a bad year for Death Metal(so far). But identity does not a masterpiece make: Contragenesis is still largely recycling ideas from bands who came before them, and not every track feels like a masterpiece. The previously mentioned "The Final Cadence of Bloodshed" does feature some of the albums slower and more atmospheric(intended anyway) compositions, but it is also the weakest link on the tracklist: ponderous, evoking old ghosts of Obituary and Master, and not really in line with the rest of the album. Vocalist Jael Edwards is a decent Ross Dolan-imitator, but he mostly is just there and grunting dutifully. I also would not describe Contragenesis is ultra-tight: some of the riffs here are damn complex, but there is also a sense of swirling chaos that at times feels out of control: about half way through "Seventh Seal Gnosis," the transitions become awkward because of the speed, and the drums seem to fall behind. These moments are neither common nor game breakers, and certainly gives Contragenesis a sense of rawness, but bare mentioning none the less.
I still can't find a ton of fault with Contragenesis. In fact, I have some pretty high praises for it. At least Ignivomous are trying to bring their own ideas and artistic expressions to their music, as so many of their peers are more than willing to suckle at the tit of their idols and rehash their songs in generally inferior ways. I would like to see Contragenesis as a sign of things to come from the band, a band hopefully ready to spread it's black wings and bring a pestilence of it's own nefarious design.