After the melodic and haunting intro ‘Portal’ sets the tone for the album, listeners are treated to a full-frontal assault in the form of the album’s title track, ‘The Ichor Carcinoma’. This no holds barred shredfest is a perfect demonstration for what is yet to come, and a fantastic introduction to the sound that Buried Realm mastermind Josh Dummer has spent so many years working on. The track also showcases the first of many guest appearances on the album, with Bob Katsionis (Firewind, Revolution Renaissance) letting all hell loose in one of the most daring keyboard solos you’re likely to hear all year.
With no signs of letting up, the groove ladden riffage of ‘Asphyxiation’s Lullaby’ take control, introducing another dynamic to the album, the clean vocals of Ryan Strain (Plaguestorm). This addition keeps the sound fresh, particularly when accompained by a compelling solo by Finnish shred virtuoso Teemu Mäntysaari (Wintersun). Coupled with ‘Through These Darkened Halls’ and ‘Apeiron I – The Legacy’, we can see the influence from bands such as Scar Symmetry and Symphony X really shine through, marrying outrageously technical and chunky verses with huge, soaring chorus’ which only serve to highlight Dummer’s songwriting prowess.
Due to the technical nature of the music, every song on the album would work well as an instrumental, so I was pleasantly surprised when the abundantly tasteful ‘On Serpent Soil’ launched onto the scene. Not only does this showcase some ridiculously elegant solos by the adforementioned Katsionis and Dean Arnold (Vital Remains), but it serves as a perfect breather right in the middle of the album, preparing the listener for the riffage to come. ‘Apeiron II – Global Dreamer’ picks up right where the previous left off, reprising the vocals of Strain and yet again treating the listener to another solid track of what they’ve come to expect from Buried Realms’s debut release.
‘Unscrupulous’ takes a change for the darker, featuring Dummer taking charge on lead vocals for the first time since the album’s opening track. Opening with a haunting intro and arguably the heaviest song on the album, Dummer’s lows and highs work in a perfect unison when stacked up to catchy guitar melodies and the reprised solo work of Arnold. If ever the band were to perform live, this is the one that would have the crowd moving without fail. Drawing the closure of the album, ‘Hidden Chapter’ serves a purpose akin to the album’s intro. A short interlude to give us a minute’s breath before the 8-minute magnum opus and finale ‘SuperSpell’ takes the stage.
The last track on any album is no small deal, serving as a final impression before the piece draws to a conclusion. Superspell is no exception to this, clearly demonstrating that Dummer is a believer in saving the best for last. Fast paced, catchy riffs accompanied with lead work from genre legend Christopher Amott (Arch Enemy) and fast rising guitar virtuoso Brandon Ellis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis) draw the album to a close in the most tasteful of ways, leaving a longing for more and a certainty of many repeat listens.