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I’ve recently read on Deathchain’s homepage that according to them, Death Gods is the best thing they ever did. I’m fond of Death Gods, really, and I understand Deathchain’s need to advertise the latest album, but must it be done through diminishing the previous releases' worth? I guess the fans of Rotten-fronted Deathchain became pissed off having been informed that their cult Deaththrash Assault was worse than Death Gods. I don’t like Deaththrash Assault, but I adore the other three albums, so the above mentioned statement aroused my anger too (What the hell? They tell me that Death Eternal is not perfect, uh?!). To protest against such injustice and neglect I decided to write a laudatory review of the most underestimated Deathchain’s album. It’s like pissing against the wind, I’m aware of that, yet it’s the only thing I can do.
The best perspective from which this album should be viewed is the one of Kai Jaakkola’s fan. Maybe he isn’t the best growler in the world: average skilled; a voice not particularly deep nor strong nor dynamic... oh, and so what?! Fuck objectivity, to me Kai is perfect. Seemingly a rather calm person, yet he sounds like a musically-talented rabid dog. A marvelous, unique combination. Hell, I’d like to marry him and have him home growling a cappella, but it is not that I’m delighted with anything he contributes to (MonsterSpank, yuck!) and certainly I wouldn’t listen to Cult of Death on and on if I didn’t like it thoroughly.
To be frank, I didn’t fall in love with Cult of Death at first riff. I don’t remember feeling any particular sensations during my first encounter with it, except for irritation with Serpent of the Deep’s chorus (how could it have been?!). Yeah, and Pit of the Possessed caught my ear at once. But the more I listened to this album, the more it attracted me.
Well, there are some things about Cult of Death I don’t like. Fortunately, everything bad in this album is stuffed exclusively into Deathammer and Hour of the Exorcist. Above all, they’re so similar! If I heard an instrumental excerpt from one of them I would never guess which of these two it belongs to. Next problem is the lead guitar. Its sound is generally too high here which distracts and annoys. And finally, the melody line is weird. These songs do not make harmonic entities; they consist of simple, primitively melodic, and, on the other hand, clamorous, chaotic bits put together interchangeably. Kai sings equally weird, especially in Deathammer. His voice goes up and down again and again (as if he practiced scales), which is really hard to bear, or else he sings a whole verse with hardly any change of note.
But the poor quality of this couple is surpassed by the brilliance of remaining six tracks, three of which are simply masterpieces. Those are Serpent of the Deep, Witchstorm, and Cult of Death. I’ve listened to each of them about hundred times and still can’t get enough.
Serpent of the Deep is a stylized pagan prayer. The atmosphere here is exotic and suggestive, and (despite Kassara’s insane drumming) the song goes on lazily and very rhythmically; it hypnotizes and takes you into an Akkadian temple to join a ritual of serpent’s calling. Summoning requires some kind of monotony, therefore frequent repetition of the serpent’s name is justified. But they’re by no means boring (however, to discover this you need to let the song carry you away). It’s an absolutely unique and fascinating piece of music. If Serpent existed, it would certainly appear summoned this way.
By the way, the music video made for this track is great too. Nothing special, one may say, no story in the background, just the band on stage. True, but they (especially their hair, instruments, and hands) are filmed in such a beautiful way that you gasp in amazement. It's singularly impressive when compared with a hilarious video for Pit of the Possessed.
Witchstorm, on the other hand, is a dynamite, clear reminiscence of band’s past (I mean, with a thrash component in the foreground because in Cult of Death clearly death prevails). An excellent one for intensive headbanging. It has great lyrics which drag you into a story of witch hunting and revenge. You can almost see the stakes in flames and smell the burnt body.
Finally, Cult of Death. This one is…I can’t find words to describe it properly. Epic would be adequate, for sure. An intro makes you hold your breath in expectation of what would happen next. And then comes Kai’s thrillingly delightful prolonged growl and you instantly have goosebumps all over (at least I have). After that, the song develops beautifully. It gradually speeds up more or less until the chorus and then slows down with a motive already known from the intro, then the final part begins which is a pure thrash blast. Magnificent.
This music may be compared to thick hot sauce, and you know how it is with a dish as such: not everyone likes it, and those who do know that it should be properly served to taste best. Cult of Death is therefore not a good choice for a party or as a background music while you’re working. If you listen carelessly, you’ll be left with an impression of hearing only monotonous repetitions of riffs and lyrical phrases. Nah, this album needs a listener’s full attention. Being given it, Cult of Death will pay you back with a great load of pleasure.