I’m sitting here impatiently waiting for the next release from Hooded Menace to hit the streets, so in the meanwhile, let’s take a look at something that’s been keeping me afloat here in the death/doom metal downtime: Coffins’ new EP March of Despair.
There’s been some shuffling in the lineup of everybody’s favorite Japanese death/doom merchants. Longtime drummer Ryo has taken over frontman duties (new on drums is Satoshi, expanding the lineup to a foursome for the first time), while guitarist/vocalist Uchino has taken over backing vocal duties from bassist Koreeda. Got all that? ‘Cause it’s kind of important.
The first thing you notice upon listening is that they’ve really picked up the tempo quite a bit with this EP, the balance falling more on the “death” side of the scale rather than “doom.” Lotsa old-school DM influences take center stage, with some unabashed Autopsy worship, and a certain classic Celtic Frost vibe coming through (particularly due to Uchino’s frequent Tom G. Warrior grunts). They’ve not completely escaped the doom dungeon, though—thick, molasses-like riffs ooze and throb throughout.
The next thing you notice is the change in tone of the vocals. Ryo has a higher-pitched death growl than Uchino’s, and I have to say that I actually prefer Ryo’s style. Uchino’s vocals have a certain distinctive cold, hollow quality, but Ryo gives his delivery a lot more visceral nastiness. While Uchino sounds like bones rattling in the otherwise empty boxes that give the band its name, Ryo sounds like a decomposing corpse, gurgling and tearing under layers of slime.
For all its brevity, this is the Coffins release I keep coming back to the most. It’s perhaps the catchiest overall record they’ve done, with righteously punchy songwriting and tight playing, and a typically superb cover—this time of Death’s “Corpsegrinder” from their Reign of Terror demo.
Coffins is a band that’s never failed to entertain (even if you’ve managed to keep up with all of their million-and-six releases over the years), but—to me, at least—they’ve hit a whole new level with this EP. Get it from Hammerheart Records or from the purveyor of putrescence of your choice.