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Dead Congregation - Promulgation of the Fall - 80%

CF_Mono, June 16th, 2014

The mid/late 2000's was a great period for death metal. We saw strong releases from classic and legendary bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Decapitated, setting a solid example for the paradigm of cut n' dry fast and brutal death metal that thousands still copy today. But in 2008 we also saw the emergence of Greece's new merciless band, Dead Congregation, who's debut album, Graves of the Archangels, shook up the metal community, and reminded us that all that sometimes simple tools are all you need to make a good death metal album: a stack of Marshalls, obscure morbid artwork, and riffs. Lead guitarist and singer Anastasis Valtsanis has repeatedly vocalized his objective of making simple, but effectively brooding death metal, inspired from little else from his own emotions, and it shows.

The announcement of this year's Promulgation of the Fall had us all waiting with intense anxiety. The political and economic situation in Greece doesn't allow for much passionate endeavor, and many of us suspected that high stress levels would greatly inhibit the writing quality on a sophomore album from the band, if one would even be written at all. But when details on the album were announced, it was hard to think that Dead Congregation were back at anything less than full throttle. And I can still firmly say that Dead Congregation's reputation is untarnished, and they are in no way hurting themselves by continuing to release albums. However, as with all great masterpieces, the mysticism of their debut album simply cannot, and will not, be replicated at the drop of a hat. Promulgation of the Fall offers a plate full of death metal ass-kicking, Dead Congregation style, but needless to say, it does not carefully advance appropriately the same way Graves of the Archangels did.

The most obvious realization about Promulgation after the first listen, is that the album is much more immediate. Dead Congregation have abandoned some of the aesthetic touches to their style, no longer including long, tremolo-picked trickles of sound, religious chants, or brief ambient moments. Instead, Dead Congregation have chosen to toss together an abundance of riffs like a salad, (albeit a well built salad) and require of the listener a much more involved approach. This may have appropriated their music to some people, but it cannot be said, in my opinion, that their compositional skills were as sharpened during the creation of Promulgation as they were before. The consequences of this aren't major, but at times I can find myself becoming distracted listening to this album, or losing attention in a way that makes me realized that it is difficult to listen to in its entirety, a problem this band has never before had. The trade off is that I am much more familiar with the tracks as individuals, and that you can listen to any one of them independently without feeling like you have missed out. Despite these drawbacks, the riffs themselves are still brutal and one-of-a-kind, and Dead congregation offers a fine template for headbanging away. We can see that Valtsanis still believes in making death metal the way he believes it should be; blasting out relentless beats, gut-wrenching riffs, and horrifying inhuman vocals. The final criticism I have is that, while the production and tone itself is okay, there seems to have been a propensity to pan much of the recording in the center, and that lack of depth perhaps attributed to the altered atmospheric content here. Nevertheless, after the first listen, it is easy to wrap your head around, and you can still savor the tasty morsels of distortion and metal serving after serving as they approach you.

All in all, Dead Congregation have failed to recreate the magical and haunting moments of their debut, and this is largely expected of them after such an unprecedented triumph, but they are still leading the way in this new brand of tortured, dirty death metal, and the influence can be seen in other great underground acts like Adversarial, Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, and Execration.

Written for Papasfritasreviews