Uškumgallu- “Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood”

Uškumgallu

Black Metal & Brews has long championed the unsettling black metal of the Pacific Northwest. Few acts embody this sound and concept more convincingly than Uškumgallu, one of the Vrasubatlat label’s finest outfits. After two highly promising demos, Uškumgallu has unleashed its debut full-length, Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood. While the title alludes to a ludicrous display of grotesquerie, there’s more than meets the eye and ear with this group. Disgusting on the surface and immensely challenging upon further examination has long been this group’s preferred method.  These six songs show development on this form in every way.

Right out the gate, Uškumgallu makes a strong statement. Introductory tracks are just as likely to be feeble ways of padding an album as they are actual additions to the record, yet it’s essential that things kick off with the crawling anxiety that stretches out over the four minutes of “(—)” as it sets the tone for what follows. The tension left lingers into the queasy “Rotten Limbs,” which lurches in with clean enough presentation to illuminate every disturbing moment without wiping away the murk in which Uškumgallu revels. The ability to distinctly hear the whispers and the bass cutting through the subdued opening is just as pivotal to the experience as the chaos the follows. Once things ramp up, the band focuses in and the entire experience becomes forceful and controlled. This is the aural equivalent of a bad trip, with the band taunting the listener and guiding them along through the darkest experiences imaginable. Still, there’s a clever sort of dynamic that keeps things from becoming pure horror all the time, with ample opportunity for the obligatory head nod, or rocking back and forth in a corner for comfort if need be.

With all this fury, it’d be easy to feel overwhelmed, yet the variation from song to song is sufficient and the intensity of it all has such a centrifugal pull inward that it’s almost impossible to turn away. Like a train wreck or that awful video someone shared on the internet that you wish you could erase from your memory, Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood has an undeniable appeal in its morbidity. “Monolith Dementia,” the album’s closing track is a perfect example of this kind of fascinating chaos. It’s got a nearly relentless pace and is about as gentle as being pushed down the stairs, yet it shifts about five minutes in and reaches a point that trudges painfully towards the beautiful release of the end. As the album winds its way into darker waters, it’s hard to comprehend following this noisy, raucous journey with anything else. There’s a vast emptiness which Uškumgallu occupies that is simply void of anything else. Other albums may touch upon the same horror and ugliness, but there’s a thin guiding light throughout and an internal sense of inertia that make this feel deeper and more relevant.

Purchase Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood on cassette from Vrasubatlat now or obtain the record next Friday, November 4th. Uškumgallu will be performing an album release show on November 5th at the High Water Mark in Portland, OR, with Anteinferno, Nefaria, and Dagger Lust sharing the stage.