posted on 5/2012 By:
As the death metal sea has parted, with old school on one side and new on the other, a small but notable sect of bands has arisen and strived to take older death metal principles and push them into a modern framework. Outfits like Dead Congregation, Ignivomous, and Mitochondrion represent this kind of ideal crossroads between eras and aesthetics, and Russian act Pseudogod has now confidently established themselves within this elite group as well.
Every superficial aspect of Deathwomb Catechesis falls in line with the tenets of anti-poser bullet-belt metal perfectly. They have the Antichrist Kramer artwork, song titles with lots of words like "iron," "decimation," and "necromancy," and the band members all wear leather jackets with patches and have their hair hanging in front of their face in their pictures. But the music Pseudogod creates is of a surprisingly adventurous, semi-progressive nature that toes a line between several established strains of extreme metal in a unique fashion. What we basically have here is a supremely heavy, incredibly fast and demanding form of blackened death metal that focuses less on individual riffs and memorable moments and more on creating a demented, unpredictable tidal wave of sounds. Like the aforementioned Mitochondrion's Parasignosis, Deathwomb Catechesis is a hellish soundscape, an ambient netherworld of intensity that brutalizes you with it's sheer overwhelming impact.
That's not to say that Pseudogod doesn't bring the riffs -- they do, and in large numbers. Each track on Deathwomb Catechesis is packed to the brim with material, bolstered by extreme tempos and a drum performance that is mesmerizing in its relentlessness. Pseudogod is less overtly technical and multifaceted than bands like Dead Congregation, leaning more towards the frenzied and hypnotic territory occupied by Ignivomous and Teitanblood. But while those bands have a fairly free-form approach to songwriting, Pseudogod's compositions are meticulously crafted and performed. The sense of chaos is maintained not by raw production or slightly off-base musicianship, but the sheer volume of riffs and vocals being thrown at the listener. Each track pours forward like a cascade of molten lava, with an intimidating atmosphere and a tangible sense of momentum.
Even more noteworthy is that Pseudogod doesn't rely much on stock tremolo patterns or expected death metal riffing tropes. Most of the guitar figures are angular, sharp, and quick in their repetition, resembling most traditional death metal only in their fevered delivery. Shades of the twisted ambience of Morbid Angel and Immolation appear at times, but are more apparent in the massive shifts and bends in the compositions than in any similarity in the riffs. The shifts in tempo and drum arrangements always feel large and dramatic, and are just as crucial to Pseudogod's hellish atmosphere as the riffs themselves. Topping off the instrumentation is a howling, desolate vocal performance that never loses its edge despite remaining in mostly the same register throughout the album. With so much pandemonium, Deathwomb Catechesis can blur together a bit on the first few listens, and while the occasional doomy slowdown or sparse interlude is effective at changing up the pace, the album is fairly one-dimensional from start to finish. But repeated listens will reveal the level of thought that went into the songwriting, and the subtle intricacies and hooks will thus begin to reveal themselves. I highly recommend listeners read along with the lyrics at least once while spinning this album. While they are of a predictably blasphemous nature, they are nevertheless evocative and well-crafted, and deciphering them makes the music feel more digestible and gives certain segments an enjoyable anthemic quality.
I've name-dropped a lot of other bands in this review, but don't mistake that for me saying that Pseudogod is merely the sum of someone else's parts. Deathwomb Catechesis is a boldly adventurous take on war-torn, blasphemous death metal that stands on its own terms, and it bears comparisons to some of the style's current heavyweights more in intent than in sound and approach. This is one of the most compelling and intense death metal albums I've heard recently, and I keep coming back to it just because it offers such a deep and rewarding experience each time. Deathwomb Catechesis feels something like a statement of defiance against the hordes of copycat bands currently arising in the death metal scene, and serves as a reminder that there's still plenty of exciting ground to cover in this genre's darkest and most unholy depths.
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