Release DetailsLABEL Svart Records
RELEASED ON 4/5/2013
Deathchain may no longer be known for their death/thrash assault, but their Sumerian rituals have given birth to a whole new monster.
Ritual Death Metal
Finland's Deathchain is known for two things — their death/thrash assault, and their album-title gimmick. While gimmicks can be cheesy, this particular one hasn't limited Deathchain's music development in the least. Ritual Death Metal sees the band delving deeper into their dark mysticism by replacing Lovecraftian imagery with Sumerian themes. Cthulhu has stepped aside for Pazuzu, and Shub-Niggurath has given place to Tiamat.
With these new deities has come new life to the band. It's fitting that the album name is, like 2005's Deathrash Assault, a genre declaration, because these days Deathchain has more in common with Aborted and Nile than they do with The Crown or Sodom. It wouldn't be quite true to say that the sound change has come about abruptly or unexpectedly, though. The sextet has had a stable lineup since 2008 (when they replaced guitarist Bobby Undertaker with a man named Cult to record Death Eternal) and their sound has been getting thicker and slower ever since.
It's apparent from track one that things have changed, as Ritual Death Metal is the first Deathchain album to include an album intro — in this case, a simple phaser-laced piano arpeggio that effectively sets the mood for the rest of the album. This isn't going to be a neck-thrashing death assault. Sonically, the most noticable change from Deathchain's 2010 release Death Gods is the production. While Gods sounded stuffed in the centre channel as though it was recorded in a box, Ritual is wide and expansive. The drums sound unlidded, and the guitars soar into an infinite sky. This gives an appropriate weight to the band when they slow the tempos down for tracks like "Our Lady Under the Earth" and the standout "Like Worms Upon the Lands," featuring guest vocals from L-G Petrov of Entombed fame.
I am unsure what effect being "Ancient Ones" in Finland's premier occult rock group Jess and the Ancient Ones has had on Corpse, Cult, and C. Void (known there as Thomas Corpse, Thomas Fiend, and Von Stroh, respectively), but I wouldn't be surprised if the sense of melody and pacing on "Our Lady" and "Tiamat's Eyes of Death" developed during their time in the bluesy band. Tracks like "Seven Asakku Shadows" and "King Pazuzu," however, are pure modern death metal. Tremolo riffs fly left and right, while kick drums let loose, carrying a wave of vocals forward in surge after surge. It's fitting that the band photo being distributed with the album features all the band members shouting full-bore into microphones. It's this kind of all-out aggression that makes Deathchain rise to the top in the current crop of modern death bands.
Deathchain may no longer be known for their death/thrash assault, but their Sumerian rituals have given birth to a whole new monster. It's been ten years since they entered the scene with DeadMeat Disciples, and with their sixth release, they continue to show that whether thrashing or ritualistic, the assault will never end.