Dead Congregation | ‘Graves Of The Archangels’
Album Of The Month | April 08
Although originally released a couple of months ago, it would be a shame to not give Dead Congregation’s debut full-length the attention that it rightfully deserves, which is a considerable amount.
Having made the requisite waves with their first EP, ‘Purifying Consecrated Ground’ several years ago, ‘Grave of the Archangels’ has arrived on the almost uniformly excellent roster of Nuclear War Now! Productions, a telling sign that this particular platter of Greek Death Metal is almost certainly going to be something special before it even gets inside the stereo. Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Right from the get-go, the level of thought and planning that the group has put into the composition really shines through. The opening track is a solid five minutes of atmospheric build-up, the apparition of Immolation at their most effective being apparent in the sickening buzz and menace-laden sound of the extended guitar intro.
Stark, ringing notes peal out as the hefty bass lays the backdrop for what we all know is coming, a charge into ferocity as an Eastern sounding intonation rings out and we’re off, pounding through the thick assault of ‘Hostis Humani Generis’. So far, so good.
What really stands out about ‘Grave of the Archangels’ is how the band manage to stand down from blasting the head off the listener for minutes at a time, inserting tempo changes and shifting gears almost constantly, yet never once does it sound even slightly forced or out of place.
Utterly solid and satisfying passages of twisting, treacle-thick Death Metal blend with passages of thumping speed and dexterity.
‘Vanishing Faith’ could be a title right off ‘Unholy Cult’, and is about as fast and stomping a track as one could want for, but it’s artful lead passages and suffocatingly dense tone propels it onto the next level, a swift drop into a bass-heavy crawl underlining what Autopsy knew better than anyone fifteen years ago, that the best Death Metal doesn’t have to be a million miles an hour, all the time.
There’s elements of slow progression and mood at work here that any number of budding Doom bands would do well to direct their ears towards.
While ‘Purifying Consecrated Ground’ showcased some seriously hyperactive drumming that vied with every twist of the capable guitars, this time Voyiantzis builds a rock-solid base of rhythm, that while being less showy, enhances every one of those passages, and it’s really paid off.
Bum tracks are pretty much non-existent, as ‘Voices’ presents a breakneck pace with the necrotic vocals working overtime to add an extra layer of filth to proceedings.
The title track again showcases a heartening use of excellently sampled Eastern religious chanting for its intro, before building a veritable pyre of riffs that literally goes from good to amazing after several building minutes, the group really firing on all cylinders. It flows like a dream, while ‘Source of Fire’ gives a healthy nod to Morbid Angel’s labyrinthine style with some properly demented soloing going on.
Repeated listens confirms the record really is black as sin, the feeling of the riffs and subterranean vocals being so weighty in parts that the listener really doesn’t matter an iota to their progression towards toppling the distant spires of the Greek Orthodox faith.
Closer ‘Teeth into Red’ rounds off nicely, dropping out of Metal into an expansive chanting section, before hammering it home with a resonating bell-toll and a final few seconds of belting Death. It’s as eloquent a close as one could wish for, a comprehensive and impressive debut album, and a gloriously dark sign for times to come.
4.6 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 23/04/08