Turin, Italy based Technical Brutal Death Metal group Septycal Gorge have been in existence since 2004. Chances are fairly high you have come across them, their material, or perhaps even their name at some point of your life by today, even though their output has not been that abundant. The year they formed saw their first demo, followed by the Delivering Hidden Mutilation EP in 2005, and their debut full-length Growing Seeds of Decay. Come 2007 the pattern was reset, issuing another demo, a four-way split with Modus Delicti, Onirik, and Fleshgod Apocalypse titled Da Vinci Death Code, and their follow-up album Erase the Insignificant in 2009. After having worked with a number of underground labels like Mutilated Records and Permeated Records, the band went on to record and independently release their third full-length, Scourge of the Formless Breed, which was picked up by Comatose Music for distribution one month later. But have the years shown a band maturing in brutality, or is this another example of when modern production values go bad?

Right away you can pick up on a slightly muffled sound to Scourge of the Formless Breed, as if some heavy fog or congealing substance had been placed atop it somehow to dilute the bite a bit. Thankfully a lot of it can be restored by amping the volume up, as this album does seem to have a lower than normal volume level. In order to get the typical output through my speakers, I had to literally double the volume. Once you get that straightened out, you find a rich distortion to the guitars that varies between bludgeoning and sharpened enough to have some edge, a strong bass guitar presence, and the drum kit overall sounds pretty good and without over compression of any sort. The vocals also come through fairly well, though the lower tone of the gutturals can sometimes get lost in the thick, murky music being performed.

You can still pick up on the crisp digital presence, which is a plus as far as the technical aspect of the group's sound goes. It also helps prevent the album from sounding robotic. The fact that this also lends to the need to crank the speakers louder than normal is just a slight annoyance that can be overlooked since, clearly, what is hidden behind the restrictive outer coating is far more impressive than what ends up coming through your speakers because of it. Either way, "Slaughter Conceived" still ends up a punishing track that often explodes thanks largely to the energetic drumming and well timed sudden bursts of adrenaline, bass drops, and technical supremacy. The latter of those elements just continues to tighten as the performance carries on, eventually recapturing the haunting glory the riffs started out with by shifting to an equally eerie melodic segment by three minutes in that asserts a little attitude as well as it slowly fades out to a dull, distant rumbling and the sound of steel striking steel in the distance. "Deeds of Eternity" is a different beast al together, crushing the listener with simpler chords that put the focus on the bass guitar to present a truly crushing sound against the steady click of the bass kicks.

Of course you have some that aren't quite too technical. "Living Torment of the Sleeping" is a short burst of Brutal Death Metal goodness after the long, burdening introduction. There are some tighter passages at times, most of which play up a creepy uneasiness quite well, though the furious drumming really helps breathe a little extra life into the performance. "Coil of Nothingness" plays up this traditional Brutal Death Metal tone again, though it isn't quite as vibrant. The drums don't quite stand out as much, leaving the guitars and bass to fill things up, which instead come off incredibly muffled and dull until about the last minute.

In the middle of this album also stands two songs that end up being connected. "No Spawn No Reign (Sons of Enoch Pt. 1)" occasionally brings the bass forward in the mix, providing enough backbone to make the simpler passages a little bulkier. Of course the more complex passages, as well as the highly melodic moments, present the richest material of an otherwise kind of empty but still good performance. "Breed of the Rejected (Sons of Enoch Pt. 2)" is the polar opposite though, which doesn't work in its favor all the time. This one is largely technical riffs and timing signatures, sometimes throwing in a concentration of bass driving riffs similar to Progressive Death Metal band's like Obscura and one note chugs that remind any seasoned genre veteran of lazy Deathcore breakdowns. Thankfully these random moments are literally just that, though still exist long enough to act as blemishes on a sturdy compositition.

On the band's official Bandcamp page for this release, the reason given for the gap of silence between albums was due to "tons of personal and physical problems which lead to all this delay" behind Scourge of the Formless Breed. It may have taken about five years, but in the end it was worth the wait. Septycal Gorge do a great job at mixing together punishing technicality and brutality with plenty of unsettling melodies, not to mention some crushing grooves and generally burdening environments. The only problem to really be had is the volume level and how much lower it is compared to your typical modern day recording. Whatever the reason behind it, you can remedy the bite it removes somewhat by cranking the volume up until it sounds about where you normally would have it when blasting your favorite recordings. Aside that and the one or two songs that just don't quite hit the same way, though are far from what one would consider filler material, Scourge of the Formless Breed is is an impressive follow-up fans of the genre should definitely check out.

Review originally composed for Apoch's Metal Review.