It's strange to think that not all that long ago, death metal and black metal seemed like two forces in diametric opposition. Both movements revolutionized "metal", with the first wave of death pushing technicality, grotesque imagery, and the least commercial aspects of thrash to their limits. Meanwhile, the second wave of black metal, inspired by Hellhammer, early Mercyful Fate, and Venom (as well as English anarcho-punk like Discharge and Crass) eschewed Guitar Grimoire shredding techniques in favor of sonic chaos and nihilistic screeds against humanity. Now that bands like Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Immortal, and Darkthrone have either moved on to reunions, "classics" acts, or entirely different entities altogether, thank the Elder Gods that bands like Ireland's ZOM, claiming the mantle of "blackened death metal," have eschewed that early tribalism to effortlessly meld the technicality and brutality of death with the fury of black metal on their first full-length, 'Flesh Assimilation'. For a band that only formed in 2011, and with a back catalog consisting of a demo and 7" EP, ZOM have the confidence and chops of a band on its third or fourth full-length. 'Flesh Assimilation' demands listening at maximum volume, shifting between tectonically heavy riffs and furious blastbeat assaults, while vocalists Chthon and Sodomaniac spew monstrously reverb-laden vocals like missives from Pandemonium. There's little technical shredding on here - guitarist Sodomaniac opts for memorable hooks, with squeals serving more like vocal effects on tracks like 'Dead Worlds'. And for all the shattering sounds, the guttural howls and stomach-churning bass, each element stands out. For once, I can actually hear the bass on a "blackened" anything album - a rare feat, indeed. While the record melds together, with agonizing soundscapes between each song, each track stands alone; 'Gates to Beyond' and 'Illbeings Unspeak' are my favorites today, but yesterday I was banging my head to the almost-thrash of 'The Depths' before descending into the shifting dirge of album closer 'Flesh Assimilation'. All this rambling about the genre bending ability of ZOM is to say that while some disbanded acts or perennial favorites are returning to their roots in 2014 and 2015, and while denim and leather clad old-schoolers nod in approval, people should be looking out for the new shit that is clawing up from the underground in scenes that no one even knew existed. Don't be the poseur who can't stop bitching about how there aren't any decent metal bands anymore. With 'Flesh Assimilation', ZOM have wrangled the distinctive chaos of both death and black metal to create one of the best records of this year.