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Coprolith - Death March - 80%

The_Harvester, May 4th, 2014

In 2012, Finnish blackened death metal four-piece Coprolith gave us a taster of things to come in the form of their three-track EP entitled Hate Infected. It was a wholly competent entry in a field so astutely defined by the likes of Behemoth or Panzerchrist, though perhaps not overly keen on setting itself aside from its counterparts. Now they have returned with 2014′s Death March, their first full-length in four years and what is anticipated to be another prudent step forward in the progression of the bands sound.

Most pleasing to the ears is that Coprolith have evidently seen the importance of variety. Many tracks shift painlessly from icy tremolo picking to chugging breakdowns in the usual fashion, but its the outstanding lead work of Jari-Pekka Mikkonen that propels many of the tracks into a much more interesting realm. ‘This Nightmare’ is a perfect example, where a soaring bridge accompanied by an arpeggiated rhythm deftly suspends the cavalcade of rumbling blasts. ‘Hate Infected’ is a skilful showcase of the bands melodic power, with the lead infused with lashings of Dissection, particularly during the numerous solos. It’s all very indicative of a band that isn’t afraid to diversify in the name of ingenuity. Coprolith’s main asset was always going to be their ability to differ from long-standing artists, and to give credit where its due, this is precisely what they have done.

The quality of the riffs is undeniable, and the piercing blackened tone reigns above the mix in a rigid fashion. For die-hard black metallers however, the brightness of the production may prove to be a turn-off. Though it allows the weight of Ben Pakarinen’s versatile vocal work to shine through, it also seems to propel the drums so far up in the mix that they sound almost synthesized. Though this is a minor blemish on an otherwise highly dynamic style, with the bands approach veering somewhere between symphonic and downright threatening. Not content with simply caving in your frontal lobe with ferocious blasting, tracks like ‘Prelude to Depression’ and ‘Death March’ possess distinct elements of narrative in the melody ranging from misery to melodrama, revealing itself as one of the most compelling aspects of the record.

However there are times where the aforementioned melodrama becomes rather overbearing. The spoken interlude on ‘Towards the Axiomatic Pain’ is cheesier than a lump of festive Stilton, and the opener ‘Intro: Without God’ with its repeated chants of “God, Satan”, whilst forming a nice bridge into the following track, sounds like something even Dark Funeral would be spiritually conflicted about putting into an album. These hiccups aside, atmospherically speaking, the album maintains a suitably melancholy tone which occasionally spirals into rabid lunacy. It’s a record that could have all too easily caved into a benign and formulaic approach, but instead slowly unravels as a striking canvass of discordant melodies and shattering rhythms which remain fresh and engaging even after a handful of spins.

There’s no doubt that Death March is a undeniably solid blackened death record, both savage and uncompromising whilst maintaining a sharp melodic edge. It’s a bold step in the right direction for Coprolith, and though not particularly original, meets all the criteria for a bold and thoroughly listenable hunk of metal.

Written for The Metal Observer