Graves Of The Archangels
posted on 3/2008 By:
I've been willfully listening to a lot of progressive music lately. And although I'd definitely consider myself a fan of bands that push the envelope in terms of complexity, there's also a big part of me that really thrives when a record just rolls through and curb-stomps my melon with fundamental cavemanic barbarism and a firm foot held in tradition.
Enter, stage left: Greece's mighty Dead Congregation.
Over the past few weeks, Graves of the Archangels has handily chopped off my head and kicked my battered trunk into the mouth of hell with a most sinister brand of evil old-school death metal. Here we find proper fealty paid to the North Eastern U.S. variety of the genre that evilly gurgled forth in the early/mid 90's. More specifically, and for reference sake, think Mortal Throne of Nazarene/Diabolical Conquest era Incantation and Here In After era Immolation, with a fine pinch of early Morpheus Descends' filthy rawness to further dirty up the edges. Wrap it all up in a slightly more modern (and truly vicious) delivery behind the drum kit, and you've got a pretty good idea of what these Greek devils are bringing to the table with this fine recording.
Once the (overly) long intro that is "Martyrdoom" eventually ends (really my only bitch about this album), Graves of the Archangels is all about the business of kicking the living shit out you for the remainder of its 38-minutes. While there are ample moments where some weighty Incantation-ish slow-downs are employed ("Morbid Paroxysm", "Vanishing Faith", "Voices" and "Source of Fire" all stomp on the brakes for a spell), an equal share of this release is spent flailing and shredding faces with quick double picking, smart pinches, and loads and loads and loads of excellent old-school riffs. In fact, nearly every song presented features some riff-moment worthy of scowling towards the heavens with claws-curled-up. For example, the amazing "Vanishing Faith" flashes one of the more cruel riff breakouts I've heard in quite some time; quickly slicing from one speaker to the other at the 1:05 point before being lifted by the rest of the instruments until the tune's eventual slow-down 40-seconds later. But honestly, this is only one tiny moment amongst many on this fine work of death metal wickedness.
Graves of the Archangels ain't only about the riffs, however. The atmosphere conveyed here is champ as well. Not just the "evilness" draped throughout because of the lyrical content and sparse use of creepy chants/Middle-Eastern prayers, but also because of the record's mix, which layers all the instruments equally (I know, pretty refreshing!), including the entirely suitable glottal vocals that shake deeply enough to rouse even the eldest of spiders from their heavily webbed lairs (thankfully, there are only guttural vocals present; no black metal shrieks or clean crooning here, folks). And as long as we're talking atmosphere, drummer V.V. (who also plays with brutal death metal outfit, Inveracity) more than does his share to push the mood towards savagery. His energetic flailing style adds a bit of freshness to Dead Congregation's sound, and definitely helps to keep things moving throughout these nine pitiless tunes.
Dead Congregation stand as yet another young band amongst seemingly few that really know how to deliver a bulldozing death metal album that's clearly rich with ancestry, yet still novel enough not to sound rehashed or hackneyed. Fans of any of the earlier mentioned bands should check these dudes out immediately; I have a feeling you'll find Graves of the Archangels to be an essential purchase. It's certainly a year-end top ten contender for yours truly. If mind-bending technicality in death metal pops your wood, I'd say stick with Willowtip, but those of us who like it raw, dirty and completely unsophisticated need look no further than our good friends at Nuclear War Now! Productions -- this is an excellent release and I highly recommend it.
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