Nailed. Dead. Risen.
raise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise. - Psalms 33:2-3
Loud? Check. Skillfully? Check. New? Sort of. Christian death metal has been around since the '90s, with bands like Mortification and Vomitorial Corpulence, both from Australia, and, more recently, Becoming the Archetype and Aletheian. However, Riverside, CA's Impending Doom may grab the most attention yet, by virtue of being on Facedown Records, the preeminent Christian heavy music label. Also, the band's sound may be the most extreme among its holy moshpit brethren. Impending Doom play a blend of death metal and grindcore that fits into the so-called "brutal" or "ultra-brutal" death metal sub-subgenres. Yes, such classifications exist; no, they don't mean much. Basically, this band is pretty friggin' brutal.
Nailed. Dead. Risen. feels like a fistfight; the title track is three and a half minutes of head shots. Blastbeats rain down like punches, tag-teaming with hulking, half-time stomps. The slower moments suggest early Suffocation, while faster ones recall Cannibal Corpse. Ironically, the band lists Aborted and Despised Icon as influences. Songs toggle between air and ground warfare, occasionally hitting thrash gears in between. Brook Reeves doesn't do death growls (i.e., cookie monster vocals). He goes even lower, using the "pig squeal" technique, which is exactly what it sounds like. In other words, the lyrics are completely unintelligible. With Barry Bonds-as-a-blender drums, a vocalist making animal noises, and guitars that sound like they're digging mass graves, Impending Doom are a far cry from "Jesus as a lover" cutesiness.
Mostly devoid of melody, the songs sound the same after a while. However, the level of musicianship is high, and occasional highlights peek through the rubble. "Condemned" has relatively jaunty bass runs, while "He's Coming Back" dutifully adds keyboards for last track, Armageddon-style drama. Like much of extreme metal, this record isn't about individual songs so much as atmosphere and impact. The atmosphere is grimly matter-of-fact, with a dry mix and punchy, over-compressed production. As for impact—that's all this album does.
Even its lyrics are loud. They leave no room for interpretation: "Don't believe the lies that will lead to your demise / We're inspired by a powerful savior / The gospel like thunder as Satan cowers trying to pull you under." Pig squeals make sense for such bluster, but do they for lines like, "Come back father God of life / Enrich us with your wealth"? I once saw a Christian t-shirt that rejiggered Megadeth's logo into "Megalife." Perhaps that could apply here. The Bible doesn't prohibit moshing, after all. Throwing the goat might be a different matter.