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Germany’s Chapel of Disease can be a rather confusing band if taken based solely on the artwork on their debut full length album, Summoning Black Gods, with the psychedelic feel that emanates from the artwork causing one to think of the band as one that plays music in the veins of stoner or doom metal. Yet Chapel of Disease very quickly proves one wrong, and though the music is far from what one might gather upon first impressions, it is equally crushing and relentless.
The cue that Chapel of Disease takes from Dutch bands such as Asphyx and even early Pestilence are rather clear as soon as the album begins proper after the ominous tolling of the bells, and the spine-tingling spoken sample on album opener Summoning Black Gods. And this done through not only that gritty and raw guitar tone that Dutch and Swedish death metal bands hold dear to, but also in the riffing styles of guitarists Cedric and Laurent, kicking off with a doom-laced riff before letting all hell break loose. This, combined with that drumming style of drummer David at times brings about strong similarities to Swedish death metal legends Entombed and other Swedish acts. Axeman Laurent also handles vocals, and the influences from Martin van Drunen are pretty obvious, with his howling style of vocals being rather reminiscent to the aforementioned. The lead guitars are also rather impressive here, and the wailing solos that are on Evocation of the Father are more than sufficient in sending chills down the listener’s back, reinforcing that morbid atmosphere that lingers throughout the album.
The bearing that old school bands have on Chapel of Disease‘s songwriting can be heard through the stylistic shifts that are present on the album. For instance, on Summoning Black Gods itself, the band constantly goes from aggressive, rage-fuelled thrashy segments to downright crushing, doom-paced sections, ensuring that not a single moment is let up for the listener to take a break at all. Descend to the Tomb even brings in a slight punk feel at times with the punkish beats of drummer David and the riffing styles on the track. As the album progresses as well, the thrash influences that the band has put into their songwriting also become more obvious, with riffs on tracks like The Nameless City even bringing in a slight Bay Area thrash sound, sounding like Metallica‘s Battery with the electric energy and is perhaps one of my favourite track off the album.
Despite this being Chapel of Disease‘s debut full length release, with the quality of the material that is on the album, the band play like veterans of the genre, evidence of the knowledge of their music. The perfect balance of crushing, doomish and faster segments make the album all the more enjoyable, ensuring that the listener is kept engaged from the start of the album right till the end.