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Cryptic proclamation to a worthless Father - 95%

Achintya Venkatesh, September 26th, 2014

The constant battle between innovation and derivativeness is a controversial topic in heavy music, especially when considering the death metal stylistic mould in this specific context, which has spawned a slew of imitators that have replicated the style forged by the originators in question. As far as the Incantation sphere of influence is concerned, it isn’t hard to see why the band inspired a slew of bands that came after it – their commodious and dissonant death metal style brought forth an entirely new aesthetic in death metal, striking a balance between atmosphere and structural dexterity, which a record like ‘Mortal Throne of Nazarene’ stands testament to. Incantation clones, as they’re mockingly referred to might impression as ersatz and devoid of any novelty themselves, but it would be unfair to paint all bands that derive from this sphere of influence as wholly spurious and unimaginative. Styles are meant to be pursued and explored once they’ve been forged rather than be left alone as innovatory isolates – they wouldn’t be considered seminal, otherwise. Inspiration derived from the said pioneers is almost wholly inevitable, and often opens up avenues for further honing, exploration and innovation within a niche style, otherwise spawning clones (as harsh a term it may be) that create music that is at the very least cohesive and is played with an admirable, but not unfounded conviction.

Dead Congregation is a band that has carried the death metal flag forward with utmost conviction, in an age filled to the brim with old school revivals spanning the gamut of the genres that fall under aforesaid broad term. ‘Grave of the Archangels’ was nothing short of an excellent record in every sense of the word, being an abstrusion to the likes of early Incantation and Immolation in the most delectable manner, making for an anachronistic juxtaposition of 90’s death metal sonic nostalgia alongside their own thematic explorations of the arcane aspects of their cultural roots, ritualistic samples and ambiance-inducing segments.

In contrast, ‘Promulgation of the Fall’ is not as meandering (although it would be fallacious to call ‘Graves..’ wholly meandering in itself), as is attested by the immediate belligerence of ‘Only Ashes Remain’, cascading forward with tonally raucous blast-beats, atop which down-tuned riffing surges forth with a sense of contortion that is characteristic for this style. Song-writing motifs rarely wear out their welcome, altering tempos and ushering in entirely new ideas although some of the more esoteric textures found in the previous album aren’t as marked here. The perpetuating repetition of a given preceding segment help in creating transition, yet rarely being excessively recursive and are instead ever-evolving. The first three tracks, for instance, seamlessly blend into each other, establishing a theme that forms a cohesive narrative of sorts, shifting between the sinister, portentous and solemn. Slower segments usually build onto something that is uproarious and epic, as can be seen on songs such as ‘Schisma’. As for comparisons to ‘Grave of the Archangels’, this record is certainly on par with it, and ‘Promulgation of the Fall’ impressions as a logical continuation of it. Yet, the tracks here lack the sheer suffocating quality of tracks like ‘Voices’, focusing on different directions and compositional evolution as opposed to fixating on a singular motion; and is also devoid of the ritualistic, sacramental interludes. The latter is something I think mirrors Teitanblood’s transition from ‘Seven Chalices’ to ‘Death’. There is nothing that is amorphous on this album – songs flagrantly charge forward as much as they dabble in eldritch moods.

Despite being cast from the same mould as the Incantation sphere of influence with smatterings of ‘Dawn of Possession’ and 'Failures for Gods' era Immolation, Dead Congregation never once impression as clichéd. These Hellenes do not restrict themselves to the comfort zone of the unrelenting chromatic riffing and atonalities that Incantation pioneered. Apart from the fantastically architectured segments of cavernous doom, the band exhibits a rich offertory of subtle and tasteful layers of melody in the leads that add a melancholic and emotional dimension to the otherwise down-trodden esotericism of this dark death metal style. The title track, restricting itself to a lumbering pace exemplifies this par excellence, and can also be viewed as an interlude of sorts, almost as if to serve as a premonition for the eschatological and cabalistic proclamations that follow. ‘Nigredo’ showcases this counterpoint within both frenzied blasting and a more dirge-like crawl. It is in aspects like this where the personality and compositional nuancing of A.V and his cohorts shines through, and distinguishes this band from the sea of clone bands with the same pool of influences.

Originally written for The Slumbering Ent @