When a band forms, as Red Death did in late 2013, primarily out of reverence for Corrosion of Conformity — and especially when half the members hail from North Carolina — their second LP is bound to have a lot riding on it. Yet to say that Red Death have risen to the occasion is to say not nearly enough for Formi-dable Darkness, their new eight-song masterwork. It isn’t just their Animosity; it’s the best record to emerge from the hardcore scene’s hallowed metal/crossover wing since Iron Age’s The Sleeping Eye rewrote our DNA in 2009.
Everything that made 2015’s Permanent Exile LP and 2016’s Deterrence EP modern classics has been amplified on the new album: the solos soar higher, the riffs penetrate deeper, the rhythm section pounds harder and with more precision, and the vocals are more unhinged. And it didn’t hurt that Arthur Rizk, by general consensus the best young producer in the game today, oversaw the recording.
From their first practice in D.C. some four years ago, Red Death have been heirs to the proudest of traditions in the heavy-music underground, and with Formidable Darkness they’ve fulfilled their immense promise — just in time for the world’s ignominious end. As it was written, so it shall be.