Masterminded by Wombbath’s Jonny Pettersson and Revel In Flesh’s Ralf Hauber, the horror-inspired International Death Metallers, Heads For The Dead return with their latest slab of unnerving excellence, In The Absence Of Faith. It may only be an EP, but in terms of quality over quantity, less is definitely more here.
Heads For The Dead – In The Absence Of Faith EP (Pulverised Records)
Release Date: 1 September 2023
Words: Jools Green
In The Absence Of Faith is a five-track, twenty-three-minute offering inspired by horror-related movies that deal with the concept of losing belief or getting challenged in extreme situations. All guitar solos, as on the previous album, The Great Conjuration, are once again delivered by Sentient Horror guitarist Matt Moliti.
The EP opens with Heart Of Darkness, and it’s superbly haunting from the offset, with its hypnotic repeat, snarling vocal delivery and chilling drop away, rising up into soaring midpoint leadwork followed by eerie keyboard work. The vocals take on an unnerving semi-spoken form briefly in the second half.
Taste Of Terror packs a punch, too. It’s unnerving, driving and engaging, the vocals raw and scathing, delivered with clarity of content. The clever use of keyboards adds that extra eerie edge, as do the evil screams and protraction on the vocals in the second half of the track. Then there’s the superb soaring, searing leadwork completing the aural spectacle.
The God Forsaken is, in a way, the title track, in so much as the title appears as a repeat chant within the track. I love the opening haunting riff, which reappears across the track. It’s superbly dark and emotive, ebbing and building tantalisingly, but it’s also punchy and unnerving and contrasted with haunting passages. The expansive burst of lead work in the latter part of the second half of the track is just sublime.
Self-Immolation In Fire is another eerie builder. Putting the listener in mind of a fire as it takes hold, it delivers wonderfully haunting riffs and squealing soaring lead work. With a lovely bounce to the bass lines in the second half, the delivery of the line “Now you’ll see me burn” sends a shiver down your spine. The song ends on a soundbite of distant torturous screams.
The final piece, Possession, is a tribute to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. The original came to fame when it was used as the soundtrack for The Exorcist, which, no doubt, is the other source of inspiration for this piece.
I always found the original eerie, but Possession is off the scale in its ability to be superbly unnerving. Vocally, you get acidic, gurgling, well-protracted growls that have an evilly possessed feel in their own right, with utterly crushing riffs alongside superb soaring leadwork and that haunting tubular bells style repeat.
The eerily complex yet intriguingly ambiguous and rather brilliant artwork was conceptualised by Jonny Pettersson and created by Indonesian illustrator Dedy Badic Art.
If you love horror movies and Death Metal inspired by movie soundtracks, The Absence Of Faith is the album for you. It’s an unnervingly good and hugely enjoyable listen.
In The Absence Of Faith EP will be available as an LP, CD and digital release via Plastic Head / Soulfood Records or from Pulverised at Bandcamp along with a tape version via War Anthem.