"Extreme metal." It's a term that, in our shared musical universe of all things aggressive and distorted, we tend to throw around without much real consideration. To most of the listening public, something like, say, Cannibal Corpse, which to the vast majority of metal listeners might as well fall into the "easy listening" category these days, still elicits genuine shock and awe. And how could they not? Unless you're a student of a genre, song titles like "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's Cunt" and "I Cum Blood" still have the capacity to nauseate your average Top 40 listening civilian. But to us, metal obsessives who are engaged in a seemingly endless game of brinksmanship to discover the most disgusting, repulsive and downright inaccessible bands and albums, what can we truly classify as "extreme" these days? Gruesome death metal lyrics, sketchy black metal lore, incomprehensible grindcore – it's all well-worn territory at this point. What's next? Who's down in the mud and creating genuinely fucked up music unlike anything that's been attempted before?
It turns out that Antediluvian, an elusive group of Canadians who call the frozen tundra (well, it's actually a fairly large city but let me have some fun here) of Edmonton home, have been at it for years. Since around 2006, in fact, and operating pretty consistently ever since, churning out some peerlessly deranged black/death metal steeped in occult debauchery and metaphysical horror. I was introduced to the band a few years ago by a good friend of mine who also gravitates toward metal that eschews more traditional structures for pure aural oppression. We had been sending each other bands like Genocide Shrines, Heresiarch and Human Agony for a while, each new band recommended with similar gushing disbelief at just how visceral and intense they were. When he presented me with Antediluvian, I don't think anything, not even the hours upon hours of "extreme" metal I'd consumed up to that point, could have properly prepared me for what I was about to hear.
While I wholeheartedly encourage anyone reading this to explore the band's entire discography, as it's a veritable treasure trove of outré delights, I want to focus on the band's most recent album: 2021's The Divine Punishment. Before anything else, take a good look at those song titles. What are we working with here? "How the Watchers Granted the Humans Sex Magick in the Primordial Aeon." "Temple Prostitute." "Sadomaniacal Katabasis (Last Fuck of the Dying)." "Winged Ascent unto the Twelve Runed Solar Anus." Clearly, we're dealing with a band that has not only completely scorched the playing field of what metal fans might consider sensible and approachable song titles by our crazed metrics but has ascended into a thematic plane all their own. These are songs that are unconcerned with your typical hack ‘n slash tales from the crypt or stargazing space-worship – Antediluvian is wholly focused on terrors that lie beyond our mortal comprehension.
As if hanging a "Here Be Dragons" sign at the top of the album, The Divine Punishment begins with what sounds like a dark wind carrying static and feedback from another world. Something resembling a human voice, but only vaguely, chants hollow and backwards as the music finally kicks in, and the resulting arrangement feels like a haunting procession observed from a distance rather than an invitation to explore the album's depths. For The Divine Punishment's runtime, Antediluvian manifests as a foreboding presence in your world. They are not here to entertain you – they are simply messengers from a place that's vast and unknowable to the rest of us, and the songs on this album are the stories they've carried from across the threshold. They move irregularly and erratically, lurching from discordant black metal to mournful orchestral passages to muscular death metal to somber field recordings all within a pace that feels as deliberate as it does animalistic and impulsive.
By the time you reach "White Throne", which devotes its entire six-and-a-half minute runtime to the theological and geometric context of the number 666, a number that metal fans know well at this point, you're delirious, exhausted and, most importantly, vulnerable. Antediluvian has worn you down into a state of bleary-eyed submission, and now they're beaming their worldview directly into your malleable subconscious. They've won, and you're better off for it, because you've experienced something special. Something unparalleled and endlessly compelling. Something extreme.