Post Mortal Possession are a death metal band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Perpetual Descent is their debut album, following two EPs, 2014’s Possessing Entity and 2016’s Forest of the Damned. Various current and former members were also in bands like Dead By Dawn, Incinerate Creation, and Victims of Contagion. If you’re fluent in the language of death metal, you’re probably already forming an idea of what PMP sound like based on this information alone. You’re probably not wrong, but there’s more going on here than you might immediately assume.

Death metal bands live and die by their riffs, and Post Mortal Possession bring ’em. Typically, they’ll set up a song with a grinding, classically death metal riff, then explode into a blurry storm of noise on the verse, then downshift to something more earth-mover-ish before speeding up again. The churning bridge riff on “Anthropophagi” is a jolt of pure face-punching energy, one of the best on the album, but the next song, “Virulent Encephelopathy,” kicks off like a hurricane that’s picked up a barbed-wire fence and hurled it at your face. There are elements of thrash and even older metal in their sound, too; before the machine-gun drums and gurgling vocals come in, the opening to “Embryonic Reincarnation” could have been written anytime between 1982 and today. “Ingesting Sewage,” on the other hand, is all squealing harmonics and blast beats.

Like many modern death metal bands, Post Mortal Possession have a keen ear for the possibilities of the recording studio, particularly where low frequencies are concerned. Their drums are uncommonly crisp and full, avoiding the typewriter/practice-pad sound common to the early 2000s in favor of a forceful thwack and boom. On certain songs, judiciously selected samples (bells, sound effects, etc.) add slight elements of compositional drama to the otherwise hard-charging tracks. For example, a tolling bell can be heard during the aforementioned bridge riff on “Anthropophagi,” and the song ends with what sounds like amplified wood blocks being struck.

The band’s not-so-secret weapon is vocalist Jake Munson. Not unlike The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Trevor Strnad, he’s capable of two very different voices: a guttural roar, and a high-pitched, demonic screech. He will often stay in the lower end of his range for the majority of a song, but switch to his upper register as a kind of accent or highlight. He doesn’t do it very much, so the first few times I heard it, I assumed it was another member of the band taking over for a line or two.

Throughout Perpetual Descent, Post Mortal Possession explore a variety of variations on a strong core style. This is an album that holds the listener’s interest throughout, even managing to sneak in a 90-second instrumental (“Blood Libel”) as a moment of respite before resuming the assault. Death metal is a ground-level, working-class art form, built around simple virtues: a solid riff, pounding drums, and authoritative vocals. These guys offer all that and more.

Stream/buy Perpetual Descent on Bandcamp:

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