When you consider that Italian death metal institution Horrid have been together in some form for nearly thirty years, it seems harsh to call out the band for its lack of originality, because they truly are an old school death metal band and should surely be treated as thus. But there is little to get excited about on this new release from them, so I think it’s a fair call.

Beyond the Dark Border is fifty minutes of solid but definitely unremarkable heavy metal. The first five tracks on the album follow largely the same format of mid-paced riffs, occasional melodic interludes and steady but unspectacular vocals. Sixth track Sacrilegious Fornication at least ups the ante with an increase in speed and intensity; the band here go from mining a Floridian death metal seam to a much more brutal style, with Dagon adopting a Barney Greenway vocal style which really seems to suit him and the music.

Missing End continues in this style, throwing in a few Swedish sounds as well – I’m thinking early Entombed, you might add other names to the list – and the song, despite being over six minutes in length, contains more than enough twists and turns to keep the listener interested. One of the major concerns I have about those tracks at the start of the album is that, despite none being longer than five and a half minutes, they all seem like they could do with some pretty vicious pruning as all the tracks feel a little overlong, sometimes collapsing under their own weight.

Horrid know what they like, and probably see no need to change their course to satisfy people who don’t see things the way they do; that’s admirable, in its way, but just by shaking things up a little on the two tracks mentioned they prove that they can grasp variation and still deliver solid death metal. They should spread their wings a little more.

Horrid‘s Beyond the Dark Border is out now on Dunkelheit Produktionen