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Chromaticity nulled - 65%

autothrall, September 9th, 2013

I'm often at a loss as to what constitutes a demo recording or an 'official' album, especially in the metal underground, where the latter can often prove just as important or substantial as the former. In the case of the Submission demo by Black Chalice, it probably has something to do with the studio process and the original intentions for the material. This is actually a considerably longer work than the Obsidian album I covered, and recorded the year before. Strangely enough, it offers some of the added variation I felt could have strengthened that work, but at the same time it's a little less consistent overall, and there were a few points at which I felt myself nodding out. I guess this better deserves the brand of 'death/doom' than Obsidian, because the growls here reign supreme, and it definitely possesses a more mournful, crushing, funeral pall, but texturally I also felt it a little dryer, less saturated with the imagination of that album.

Submission opens with a four-minute instrumental constructed from clean, sad, scintillating guitars that eventually builds into a union of chords and single picked melodies, and then beyond that comes the really heavy stuff. There's still a combination of drudging, filthy chords and melodies, but the former feel a little more gratingly tuned, and the latter seem slightly less tethered to the bottom line. The drums are really underwhelming here, faint beats that barely support the huge, ugly riffs canvased above them, though they pick up steam in the bridge of "Regret" when they start hammering away. The guttural vocals take on a maudlin, almost monotonous drift as they would in many recordings of this field, and they don't really distinguish themselves as being particularly weighted or brutal. "Submission" itself features more clean guitars, and some of the submissive, clean vocals that are commonplace on Obsidian, but it also has a pretty weak transition and then picks up into what is basically an admixture of driving, older Katatonia-style guitars. I found "Cornea" more to my liking, though the rhythm guitar distortion seems to clip a little and nearly bust out of its own recording.

The last track, "Wain" seems to come from a separate recording session and has a more repressed quality about it. Melodic vocals, groovier riffs and a bass-heavy, Sabbath like substance to some of the riffing in the bridge. Perhaps an attempt to make inroads to a more antiquated style of doom metal, but it does seem a little out of place with the rest of the material, and sloppily constructed so that the riffs don't exactly flow into one another in a meaningful way. That said, I actually did enjoy the project of Patrick using his clean vocal style over this more psychedelic riffing aesthetic, I only wish he were louder. Lyric-wise, Submission was quite good as the other Black Chalice material, especially the song "Regret" where I really enjoyed the closing line: When will we be sorry? We will be sorry. Still very personal and deep, wrist-cutting and depressing, but perhaps a bit more image-laden. Ultimately, I think this was a work borne of experimental intentions more so than Obsidian, but some of the songs drudge on a little much without many ideas of note, and "Wain" just didn't fit for me. Not without a few moments, but I simply felt more rewarded by the experience of Obsidian.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Black Chalice - 70%

Zerberus, March 7th, 2013

Black Chalice. The name reeks of dying, depression and burdening, imposing matters. Black Chalice is the name belonging to an American one-man black/death/doom metal band, a band that I have been acquainted with for some time now.

With Submission Black Chalice are trying out a new approach with the album intro "Deluge", which features something very atypical for the band. Normally it's straight on and forward with chaotic, gritty guitars groaning under the stress of the player's hand, but Deluge is all about flowing acoustic guitars, thusly building an atmosphere not nearly as raw as on the prior demo material of Black Chalice. While the sound of Black Chalice hasn't changed much Hasson's approach to songwriting has changed a lot since the beginning back in 2011. On Submission he favours more melodic riffs and dredging speeds rather than the fast, unvaried drum-powered tremolo-riffs on the early demos. A change that I for one am happy to hear as it provides the music with a whole new level of detail to peak the listener's interest.

In context with the acoustic intro the last song on the demo, Submission, also starts out with simple acoustic playing that puts you into a false sense of comfort until it slowly fades into the raw guitar-dominated soundscape that I've come to link with Black Chalice. A thing that especially struck me on Submission is the accustomed use of layers that wasn't present on the earlier material. This is evident in all the tracks but in my eyes works best on the track Regret where weeping guitars provide a nice contrast to the groaning and coarse string-play of Patrick Hasson. Another thing that makes Submission stand out compared to Hasson's earlier releases is that the drums and rhythm section in general have been severely downplayed; Where monotonous drumming dominated the early demos, drowning out most of the other parts of the music, on this demo it's much easier to hear the details in Black Chalice's music.

The music of Black Chalice could always be best described as "discordant" and "rough around the edges", and while the previous releases also seemed rather unrefined the same things go for Submission. But Hasson has found a more suiting focus for the band which makes the album a much more interesting and welcome experience than Years of Flame and Prayers for Our Lord and Saviour. Though all the releases are very organic in their sound and composition Submission is by far the least mechanical-sounding, and even though Hasson's chosen style of black- and death-infused doom metal mostly focusses on depressive themes and desolate soundscapes he has still found room for epic compositions and gloriously melodic parts.

Originally posted on http://gouls-crypt.blogspot.com/

The deluge full of dementia and black shadows. - 75%

Metantoine, August 29th, 2012

This is a very good demo from a one man project from Portland, Maine and it works as a counterpart to Auspicium, the atmospheric black metal project of this dude named Patrick A. Hasson. I never heard this other band so I can't hardly make any comparaisons, but Submission has this raw production and this lugubre feeling, somewhat coming from these black metal roots. The themes and lyrics are quite personal and deals with depression issues, it's profound and quite good.

This demo tape released on Contaminated Tones, a new underground label from New Jersey led by my friend Jon is very well done. The songwriting is solid and very captivating. We have 4 songs for 32 minutes of music and there's no time wasted, maybe the 4 minutes introduction called « Deluge » wasn't so needed but it's nothing to complain about, it gives us some time to dive into the harsh and uncompromising world that's waiting for us throughout the next 3 songs. There's nothing unnatural here, all is very vivid and atmospheric. It sounds like a restless grey ocean tormenting a sad old man on his little ship of dark dreams. Silly comparaisons aside, Black Chalice is very dark and captivating, the songs are slow and are long dirges. It's mainly atmospheric death/doom but there's some funeral doom and lo-fi traditionnal doom influences as well. The last title track is totally monumental and my favorite on the demo, it starts with a calm intro with soothing vocals softly murmured in the background and the guitar is quite clean, almost like a lullaby. A cool bass solo is separating the soft intro and leads to a heavier part, this part is as melodic as early Anathema. The musicianship is simple and does the job very well, the riffs are not really complimented by the minimal production though, they deserve a tightier production though. The harsh vocals are cavernous and slow and adequate to the music, they're in the background, like a howling deluge of thoughts and it feels right

With a better production and with a bit more colours, Black Chalice could really become a great beast. Hasson is a talented musician and he has a very bright vision of doom, it's lo-fi, simple but very dark and rewarding. Check it out.

Check it out on my blog!

Doomed, plodding demo-lition - 77%

Zodijackyl, July 1st, 2012

Haunting clean guitars introduce Black Chalice over four minutes where atmosphere builds, inevitably leading to lo-fi doom where a dark atmosphere looms over the plodding march of the rhythm guitars. A contrast is built between distant, ethereal leads and dominant rhythms that sound like they are rising from a cave. A drum machine punches away in the background, a distant rhythm below the cavernous sound of the guitars. The rhythm guitars sound massive, with the lead/melodies cutting through when they appear, but the vocals staying low and the drums being nearly doomed from audibility.

The elements at work here seem to be a reversal of a lot of doom these days - while doom metal bands of this day often rely heavily on a great tone and weak riffs, Black Chalice is the other way around - good songwriting and good riffs, but weak production that leaves something to be desired. The desire is strong, because the music sounds great through much of the demo. The sound is suitable for the first half, but five minutes into the third song, there is an exceptional movement where a melodic guitar lead takes control of the music, and while it's a great part, I know that this section could sound so much better if it did not sound like it was recorded in an underwater cave. I really like the music and the production doesn't detract from it most of the time, but the pinnacle of half an hour of exceptional music feels buried, rather than pronounced and displayed in its best form. It's a demo, and I would love to hear the same music captured more effectively, with the great amps and recording that so many doom bands couldn't use as well as Black Chalice could.

The songwriting is simple, but very effective. Without looking at the clock, I wouldn't know that an exceptional section repeated for well over two minutes, but it is a testament to the strength of the songwriting that one riff could be repeated for that long and when it ended, I only wanted to hear it again. The third and fourth tracks both do this, where a very simple rhythm plods along while a simple melody intertwines with it on another guitar. In other music, a melody can often lead a song over a very short timespan, but rarely can a song be led by a part like this, long enough that it tops the duration of some songs.

Simple riffs and arrangements emphasize a crushing sound and excellent doom metal atmosphere. The songwriting is efficient - every riff is worth it - never a dull moment, only a few moments where the riffs deserve massive production that I can't really expect from a demo, though the sound is as strong as many pro releases with similar styles. It's a good listen and the only downside of the demo is that it's good enough that it shows more potential than a demo could capture. Check this out and watch the band in the future.

Crushing - 80%

Rotting_Christ_Mike, June 19th, 2012

Taking advantage of the physical release of this demo, I gave Black Chalice a shot; I can safely say that I am not disappointed. What we have have here is quality material from a promising project.

The music here does not move exclusively at slow paces to bring forward the feeling of doom, but also makes use of beautiful melodies to achieve a sad and mournful atmosphere. The guitars play the lead role here, and that is good news because in songs like 'Regret' the repetitive and sorrowful guitar melodies are what make the whole thing worthwhile. The drumming is what you'd expect it to be, following the guitar playing when it comes to the speed variations. The sound is thick and muddy, so I can't comment on the bass since I can't hear it, but I can tell you that this does not affect the music; the absence of the bass does not affect the listening experience and you won't miss it. The vocals are somewhat buried underneath everything sometimes, especially at the more guitar-driven pieces like the aforementioned 'Regret' while in slower ones like 'Cornea' they come to the forefront slightly above the guitar. The vocals themselves are a deep growl which sounds a bit raspy at moments and is exactly what is needed in the music. I find that the vocals are definitely not the main focus of the music though, and they are just accompanying it because my ears are mainly focused on the excellently executed melodies but during the slower parts when the vocals are more prominent they become more noticeable.

This is a well-balanced release, combining both slow death/doom and faster melodic passages which still retain the depressive feeling of the whole release. The changes are not abrupt so everything will sound natural to your ears and won't confuse you like abrupt changes tend to do. The music is very good and the melodies are actually memorable with 'Regret' being stuck into my head for days. There is enough variation to keep you interested, but when nothing changes the music does not become boring but rather feels droning and sucks you in its repetitiveness. My favorite aspects of the demo are the guitar playing and the way in which the music as a whole actually achieves the purpose of atmospheric death/doom and really creates an atmosphere rather than bore you to death. This band is deserving of their atmospheric tag. The muddy sound results in a crushing force.

Having not listened to the previous demos of the band, I can say that the 30 or so minutes of music contained in this release were enough to grab me and I will be following the project's future plans. It certainly sounds interesting and I can't wait to see what the future will bring. Give this a listen!