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Formed in 1988, Derketa set the underground ablaze with several demos and an EP of enshrouded primitive death/doom before breaking up in 1990. And here they are again, returned to us in 2012 and basically ignoring twenty-four years of death metal history with an album that sounds straight-up old-school and authentic (because it is). In doing so, they deliver something that sounds utterly fresh and vital. These are the dark roots of genre, twisting up and around the death metal family tree. And if I'm honest, strangling the life out of most of what has come after them. In Death We Meet has a timeless quality, sounding as much like a long-lost artifact as it does a contemporary breath of fresh air.
For those of you weaned on modern death metal bombast, this record might sound rather dull to you. The production is rough and raw, soaked in a darkened atmosphere. It has a definite lo-fi feel, like that of a well-worn cassette. The drums are clearly not triggered and sound utterly naturalist and refreshingly human. The guitars bite and have a unique tone, allowing for layers of melody to escape from the beneath the distorted sludge. The lead vocalist is nasty, her voice beckoning like a scorned goddess rudely awakened from millennial slumber. Tracks move at a rather languid pace, inducing a head-nodding torpor with occasional high-tempo lacerations of tremolo death metal. Memorable riffs and soaring Bolt Thrower-esque melodies abound, particularly on such tracks as "Until Our Death" and "Last Rites," songs that furrow a deep mental impression.
It may have taken an inordinately long time but Derketa have finally given us the true measure of their potential with a full-length that fulfills their initial promise and secures them as custodians of death metal initial first-wave. If you count albums like The Rack, Leprosy, and Mental Funeral among your all-time favorites, do yourself a favor and snag a copy of In Death We Meet post-haste.
A quote on the back of the CD reads "The First All-Female Doom Death Metal Band, Est. 1988". This Pittsburgh group released a couple of demos during late eighties-early nineties and gained a reputation in the death metal underground. But unfortunately a first album never came... until now!. But the wait was worth it for sure!.
Eight tracks of pure and absolute raw doom/death metal. Heaviness and obscurity are constant during the 49 minutes of "In Death We Meet". I have to say that my favorite track of this CD is the opener, majestuous, epic and pounding "Goddess Of Death" a ten minute masterpiece of pure doom with haunting passages in it. Derkéta is certainly focused on the slow tempos and very heavy riffs but tracks like "Rest In Peace" or "Shadows Of Our Past" have some decent fast tempos that became doomier again.
Sharon Bascovsky (Vocals and Guitar) commands this work with a very deep style of growl, and inspired riffs that are not only very heavy, they have melodies and dark textures. The rest of the band is very good with their instruments, production and sound in general are really raw making the record more interesting. Rawness doesn't mean that instruments are not properly audible, each one of them is recognizable.
Last song of this album is another opus, I'm talking about the title track of the album with excellent guitar melodies mixed with the constant heaviness that Derkéta shows in their music. It is an injustice that this band doesn't get the proper recognition in my opinion.
Self financed by the group, "In Death We Meet" is clearly better than other albums of the same style. So contact the band and buy this amazing lesson of death metal in a very doom way. I can assure you that you will not regret.
There is a list of bands from the late 80s and early 90s that have set the underground ablaze with the rawest of demos and have earned some well-deserved respect in doing so. It can be said for some of them that it’s simply a shame that they were never able to release a full-length record. [some notable examples are Necrovore and Moral Decay (Sweden)]. With the release of their first full-length since their 1988 inception, it is pleasing to now scratch Derketa’s name off that list.
The band has planted their feet firmly in the early 90s death/doom sound from which they were born out of. If you’re fortunate enough to have obtained a copy of “Goddess Of Death” [comp of splits, EP and demos], one first thing you’re likely to notice is that there is a certain thickness to their production, but that’s not to say that the sound is cleaner than it should be. This is still a proper death metal album and a tremendous one at that. It has a raw sound, but there is a certain freshness that distinguishes it from their older recordings. The album opens with the crushing ‘Goddess Of Death’ which clocks in at over ten minutes, making it Derketa’s longest opus to date. The song serves as an excellent way to begin the album with a blowing wind and bell sounding intro that leads into a nasty doom riff. The bell sound appears again toward the end of “Last Rites“ and really enhances both of those songs. I’m a sucker for that bell sound, simple an idea as it may be, but when you get lost in an album like this, it fits so well especially since it only appears twice in the album. Despite line up changes over the years, this incarnation is the same as the original but with the addition of Robin Mazen on bass. Mary Beilich, though known more for her bass credentials is on guitar and she and Sharon play some intense doom riffs that lead into some higher note trills a lot of the time that aren’t unlike Autopsy’s doomier parts and Sharon’s vocals are straight forward, fierce and command the attention of the listener. Terri Heggen’s drums sound good and raw and she plays in a similar style to her past projects. It’s difficult to pick standout tracks because the album is very consistent with it’s quality, but if I had to pick, I’d say “Until Our Death” and “In Death We Meet” are the strongest here. When I say that Derketa plays death/doom, there is a little more emphasis on the doom part as the album appears to be void of blast beats and hangs in what some remember as ‘slow death‘ territory. If this were 1991, it would be a lot easier to simply put a death metal stamp of approval on this and send it on it’s way, however, in today’s much expanded scene, death metal means different things to different people. For some, death metal now means to be as technical as possible and for the guitar players to out-Malmsteen one another over heavily triggered drums. For others it means endless slam riffs and breakdowns which in my opinion misses the point, atmosphere and feeling that the death metal of old is really known for which is that eerie horror feel that made those early Death, Rottrevore, Pungent Stench, etc. albums as great as they are. For those that prefer a modern style, remember the goal here likely was to uphold the pure death metal style and probably to distinguish themselves from their previous bands; something that was done very efficiently.
Another thing that makes this album so enjoyable is that there isn’t any one particular band I can pinpoint for a comparison. Coffins is probably among the bands this could best be compared to, but they’re hardly the same thing. The lyrical content is another thing that separates Derketa from the bands around them, being more on the spiritual side of the spectrum. Not in a Christian way or anything, but definitely some intriguing thoughts without telling the listener what to think. It’s a breath of fresh air in contrast to ‘Satan Satan Satan Rah Rah Rah’ or rehashing Cannibal Corpse quality gore. If you’re looking for a band that best holds up the flag of real death metal in this day and age, the first all female death metal band is a good place to look. From what I’ve read, a different mix is due out for the vinyl version, though I have no complaints about this mix. If it’s better than this one, I can already see the legions of “See, vinyl is always better” crowds going absolutely nuts. Since the artwork is perfect for this type of album, it will be fun to see it with all the liner notes expanded in size.
Let me start by saying doom is not my first choice in metal. I’m a speed freak normally but if I listen to doom, it’s solely for the atmosphere. Not for musicality, originality or whatever. Doom, for me, is appealing only if it either has great melodies and impressive vocals (Messiah-era Candlemass) or the exact opposite with a total lack of slick production like the first Hooded Menace album. Most doom-death I like are all from the 89-91 era like earliest Cathedral or Castle (nl) with, as said, some 21st century exceptions like early Hooded Menace. Call me autistic but I’m pretty specific if it comes to doom. And furthermore, Derketa isn’t entirely ‘doom’ but 75% of the album comes damn close.
Now Derketa is a band of old. A band I pretty much never noticed during their earliest few years of existence because their music simply never crossed my path. Not until internet was common in every household and the 2003 compilation ‘Goddess Of Death’ was mentioned all over the net. And here it finally is, their first full length album after 24 years.
The first thing to be noticed on this album compared to for instance the ‘Unholy Ground’ demo (1990) is a longer average length of songs, more songs which retain a slower pace (by which I mean less fast sections built into the songs save a few obvious examples but more on that later) and less effects on the vocals. And Derketa make it work. The vocals haven’t sounded better on any old release than they do now and the delicate pacing is what makes this album a cohesive creepy entity..
It won’t come as a surprise that the ‘fastest’, shortest and most to the point songs here are my personal favourites right now, we’re talking ‘Witchburned’ and ‘Rest In Peace’ here. Simply superb death metal tunes in their simplicity, dynamics and catchiness. Also memorable are the very sludgy basslines on ‘Until Our Death’ and the riffs and lyrics of the titletrack (just read the booklet). The BoltThrowerish intro of ‘Shadows of the Past’ and the build-up of ‘Last Rites’. But in all honesty there isn’t a single bad song on the album.
Furthermore the production is as perfect as it gets if you want to revisit that 1991 feeling. It does exactly that. If I had a timetravelling phonebooth I could easily drop this CD anywhere in western Europe or the US and didn’t even have to deceive people into believing it was actually recorded in ’90 or ’91.
The resurrection of Derketa is a welcome and refreshing one in an age when most founded supposedly old school death metal bands try to sound like either Dismember and Entombed in 1991 or Massacre meets Autopsy. Of course the Swedish sound is also a nice thing to endure and so is Autopsy worship if we were to talk about the pure original essence of death metal which back in the day was the underground answer to the growing technicality, hipness and Hollywood productions of late eighties thrash when that genre just became too big and lost its raw edge. Derketa go back to that feeling but obviously follow their own rules. Which is logical seeing how they were among the earliest original death metal bands but just failed to release a full length album during the early nineties for whatever reason.
In Death We Meet is a either a murky swamp or a dark basement filled with fanatics, taking metal back from the big labels, Andy Sneapish Hollywood producers and showing death metal is not about technicality, musicality, making money, being hip or popular but the sheer feeling and pure essence of death metal.
So don’t buy death metal albums from the big labels, don’t download and bankrupt the underground but get this album directly from the band. Do it. Now