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I didn't hold much hope for Centurian's new release entitled "Contra Rationem" as I have never really been a fan of these guys. I must say, though, that I was impressed with this particular release. The sound is nice and thick although if it were a tad rawer in production it would have added a nice touch to this CD. These guys have been at it since 1997 and with only 1 demo and 3 full-length cds under their belt, you can tell that these guys take pride in their work and want things done right. Even though I've never really cared for these guys, I still have the highest respect for them and I'm even going to go back and check their earlier releases out again just to see if in fact I was missing something.
The influences and vibes here are plentiful and include the following: Vader, Krisiun, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Behemoth and Malevolent Creation. The drumwork takes me back to early 90's death metal. The riffing is pretty much straightforward while the solo work seems to be influenced a bit by the work of Jack Owen and Dave Suzuki at least in my opinion. The vocals seem to be influenced heavily by Deicide and Behemoth and are double tracked on some tracks which I usually do not care for but it actually works to an advantage on this album. Pretty much everything thing on this CD is old school and traditional and is definitely something that is truly uplifting to the spirit of death metal and should appeal to most of those who love this genre. This CD has 9 songs and clocks in at a little less than 30 minutes but rest assured that it is absolute brutality and chaos from beginning to end.
The artwork is a bit odd yet horrific in an abstract sort of way. not sure what the band was going for here but nonetheless, it is still pretty cool. After hearing this CD for the second time, I think it is a shame that this band has not released more material than they have. Hopefully, with this new album and a renewed spirit, these guys will write and record more old school inspired anthems such as the ones displayed here. Sometimes it takes a CD like this to make you take a second look at a band that otherwise you would just catagorize as a copycat band. Also, after hearing this CD, I am a little more openminded when it comes to bands that I don't like the first time I hear them. Centurian is a prime example of a band that can make you take a second look and believe in the sincerity that they are here to make the highest quality death metal possible.
After spending more than a decade under a different moniker ("Nox") due to a lineup change and supposed change in musical direction, Centurian decided to change their name back to reflect the fact that in all actuality, they really were always Centurian all along.
Hailing from the Netherlands, to say these guys have always had a sound that distinguishes them from their Dutch counterparts is an incredible understatement. Their homeland still harbors a strong history of the battles and wars that have been fought on it's soggy soil, so understandably the majority of bands hailing from the Netherlands tend to be of a brutal, militaristic ilk. On the flipside, Centurian has always been a bit more sinister, evil, and technically precise in it's death metal offerings. If you need a point of reference, it's firmly in the ballpark of Behemoth and Krisiun, but the closest point of sonic reference/influence has always been and still remains Morbid Angel, even down to the tone and delivery of Rob Oothuis' slithering guitar lines. The tracks contained herein have that influence in spades, as any opening riff could have easily come off "Covenant" back in the day. It's not to say that Centurian is a straight-up Morbid Angel clone though, as those swaying, almost impossible-to-headbang-to lines often give way for straight-up blastfests courtesy of Seth Van de Loo (also the insanely talented drummer of Severe Torture, and former vocalist of Centurian), and occasionally Rob does through in something of an evil arpeggiated pattern a la Nergal to break up the pace a little (see beginning of "Damnatio Memoriae"). New vocalist - and holdover from the Nox project - Niels Adams is an incredibly versatile larynx-shredder with a very throaty delivery that totally suits the riffage to a T. His screams, while not altogether black metal, tend to be very harsh and gravelly and blend perfectly with his deeper snarl.
In all honestly, this is not the most original thing you've ever heard. But if I know death metal aficionados, it's less about originality and more about sheer delivery, which is something Centurian has mastered. I'd probably recommend a slightly crisper mixjob next time around to help the band stand apart from it's evil Floridian influence a bit more next time around, but all the same, this release is flat-out solid!
Well over a decade ago, Centvrian was another of those death metal hopefuls which might very well have been caught up in the same storm of notoriety that made Krisiun, Angelcorpse and Nile forerunners in the field of brutality. Alas, for whatever reason, the wells of hellish inspiration ran dry after but two full-length recordings, and several of the members walked the plank, while others splintered off into the related Nox who had a comparable sound. Most of the core group has kept busy with other acts like Severe Torture and Prostitute Disfigurement, but after a few successful live gigs in 2011, plans were made to once more make a go out of this defunct project. We can all be thankful of that, because not only does Contra Rationem trample its predecessors, but it ultimately amounts to a pretty fresh sound for blast-focused extremity that overcomes the usual limitations.
Intricate riffing is key to this experience, and the prime factor in elevating the effort above so many of its robot-drone contemporaries, who seem to think the sheer speed and force alone are paramount to the procreation of great musical vision. Centuvrian mete out wild rhythmic patterns that you simply don't expect, and to my great delight, they were the sorts that I instantly wanted to figure out. For instance, in "Crown of Bones" they carve out the usual tremolo picking with these excellent, grooving chord patterns, and a toss up a few spikes of black metal dissonance for good measure. The sheer speed of the rhythm guitar across many of the cuts, and the tone thereof, will evoke nostalgia for Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness, and I had a similar reaction to its controlled, calamitous construction; lightspeed thrashing evolved into something altogether more brutal and bristling with menace. But Contra Rationem puts a creative spin on it, its authors intent on not only technicality, but licks that will actually dazzle the listener into wanting to relive them repeatedly. The leads, too, show an enormous level of detail, zipping and zapping through cuts like "Judas Among Twelve" like a swarm of insects discovering some new feasting ground.
To their credit, though so much of the album is performed at rippling velocity, they can also manage a few mid or slower paced chord progressions (like the intro to "Damnatio Memoriea") to dispense with any sense of unbridled monotony. The drums are blindingly dextrous, but Centvrian has gone with a more organic production than many of today's modern, mechanical sounding brutal/technical death acts, and the result is definitely one of a Sandoval on steroids rather than an obvious panorama of brickwalled overdubs. Bass is fast as fuck too, but suborned slightly by the boxy guitar tone. I wasn't entirely blown over by the new vocalist, Niels Adams (who several of the other members have worked with before), but largely because he just sounds like a Steve Tucker or Glen Benton, a blunt and dark inflection with a few snarls thrown in to add texture. Granted, he performs this style well enough, but the guitars and drums are just too obviously the focus, and responsible for almost all of the memorable moments throughout (apart from some brief sample snippets like the intro to "Antinomium"). Taken as a whole, Contra Rationem is not simply just a band dusting itself off, but exceeding all expectations. A veritable death metal whirlwind that should find an audience with fans of Krisiun, Behemoth, or anything Morbid Angel released from 1989-2000.