The verbose horror of Vastums first two LPs Carnal Law and Patricidal Lust sadistically carved a jagged, dripping wound into an increasingly reductive American death metal scene. Arising again for their third full-length album, they plumb the depths of internalized agony and degradation farther than ever on Hole Below.Characterized by a deeply cavernous trudge through gut-churning heaviness, Hole Below both bluntly crushes and rigorously shreds to conceive fully formed grotesqueries of debased brutality. Guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf wields her axe with the experienced slice of masked executioner quartering savage riffs and twisting leads. The abhorrent vocal (and lyrical) morbidity traded by imposing frontman Daniel Butler and Abdul-Rauf continues to be the most formidable combination in death metal. Along with guitarist Shelby Lermo, the intimidating rhythm section of Luca Indrio and Adam Perry steer the war machine through the pooled blood and skull fragments scattered amidst the debauched iniquity of this peculiar hell.Three albums in, this respected San Francisco band has honed their disturbed masochism into a sound manifestly their own and true to the core of the purest, darkest death metal. 20 Buck Spin presents Hole Below as one of the finest albums this year.