Later this year – we’ve entered 2019 in the meantime – Zombiefication will celebrate their twentieth anniversary. Congrats, dear Mexican sweeties! I have been something like a ‘fan’ (damn, what an imbecile description, ‘being a fan’) since I first heard something from them – it must have been in 2012 or 2013, listening to their five-tracker Reaper’s Consecration. Damn (oops, I’m swearing once again), what I truly adore is this: despite hailing from a city at about 200 kilometres North-West of the Mexican capital Mexico City, this duo performs the best Proto-Swedeath stuff since the Swedish scene explored itself at the end of last century’s glorious Eighties.
Before I discovered this band, they did record and release some demos and a full length, Midnight Stench (2010 Asphyxiate Recordings and 2011 Osmose Productions), and during the first half of this decade, I truly enjoyed At The Caves Of Eternal (Pulverised Records, 2013; review: http://www.concreteweb.be/reviews/zombiefication) and Procession Through Infestation (Doomentia Records, 2014; http://www.concreteweb.be/reviews/zombiefication-0). In 2015, there was a split 7”EP with Germany’s finest Revel In Flesh (hey, do you, once again, notice the link towards the scene from Sweden?!...), but then things went silent – yet not definitively.
With pleasure I can announce the return, or continuation, of the mutual efforts courtesy of visual artist, lyricist and ‘singer’ (yeah, whatever) Arturo ‘Mr. Hitch’ Vargas and string-wizard / music-composer Jacobo ‘Mr. Jacko’ Córdova (also known from his involvement with e.g. Majestic Downfall). It has been made available via digital sources and on compact disc via the great label Doomentia Records (headquarters in Czechia), the latter (the CD) coming in a six-panel digipack, cross-shaped, and with assistance of Mr. Blast on drums. the recordings have been mixed and mastered, once again, by Tore Stjerna at the, indeed, Swedish Necromorbus Studio (where else?).
After a few listens, I am sure that Zombiefication still are one of the strongest acts from Mexico. But they are unique too. I did appreciate their former stuff a lot – as you might have seen in my reviews – but with this album, they go further into self-development and increasing self-exploration. Yes, the inspiration from the Swedish school has not totally gone, luckily. But with Below The Grief, the band undiscovers their urge to put their own stamp on the scene, stepping away from that proto-sound that defined their former releases.
More dissonant, technical and complex than before, Below The Grief explores the borders of the scene, and injects much more melody (string-wise, with dual riffing and fine leads), adding technically-discordant experimentation (cf. Heavy Is The Crown, for example), and prolifically injecting elements from related genres, such as Black and Thrash Metal, and even quite some aspects of Hardcore / Crust / Punk, Groove and Sludge. A lot of variation in tempo (with even some truly doomish pieces, like that grandiose first part of Echoes Of Light) and structure, the ingeniously worked-out staccato riffs, the dissonant melodies, the excellent mix and the timeless approach, are just a couple of selling points (oops, I seem to turn into a capitalistic-commercial human being). No, seriously, this material is as harsh and intense as before, yet with new elements (like that progressive interlude in Deliverance From The Astral Sea, to name just one example), and a comparable yet increase and far more convinced urge to create a dense, obscure, ominous atmosphere.