Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean - Obsession Destruction (Redscroll)

There's always a worry when it comes to exceptional records that the follow-up is going to fall short. After I covered Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean’s last EP I Tried Catching You But You Fell Through Me, I wondered how the band would match its abyssal pressures with their first full-length release. I didn’t have to wonder for long. Obsession Destruction is a doom tour de force, not only building upon the band’s familiar sludge aesthetic but recontextualising it with a far more expansive, emergent sound. Whereas I Tried Catching You… wallowed like a colossus crushing fathoms deep in water, Obsession Destruction rushes up with new freedom and ferocity—rising fast.

“The Altar” sets us up for a roaring start, juxtaposing viscous sludge grooves with rippling, muscular leads. The track feels like a real exertion of power, and never overstays its 10-minute runtime. Flecks of trad doom can be detected later on in Obsession Destruction, from the more syncopated rhythms of “Hole In My Head” and “The Gates Have Closed And They Will Never Open”, to the chorus-laden guitar leads on “Ten Thousand Days Of Unending Failure”, calling to mind modern proponents like Warning or Inter Arma. But sludge purists have no reason to fear; the guitar tones are as grainy and grimy as ever, and there’s more than enough battering-ram riffage to go around. This is especially so on the second half of the record, with the climactic closer, “In The Feral Grace Of Night May The Last Breath Never Come,” demonstrating the full force of the band’s thunderous, smothering sound—now six years in the making. And the vocals still have that gritty gargle, as if the singer really were howling through water-filled lungs. All in all, if Chained had anything left to prove, then this record’s got all the right receipts. They show they can still bring their destructive benthic sludge, but also integrate enough new elements to prove they are now chained in name only.