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Verdict: A Hung Jury - 60%

televiper11, December 12th, 2012

Since Martin Van Drunen's re-activation in death metal, we've been treated to a wide array of new classics from both Asphyx and Hail Of Bullets. Having played his earlier Asphyx and Pestilence records to death, I was utterly grateful for this bountiful harvest of new and capable material but somewhere along the line, something went astray. Grand Supreme Blood Court ought to be awesome as it returns Eric Daniels to the fore-front of death-doom, the genre he helped pioneer. Bow Down To The Blood Court is as close to a true sequel to Last One On Earth that we are likely to get so how come it sounds so lifeless and uninspired?

Part of it is ear-fatigue: in the past four years, we've had six new Van Drunen fronted releases, all of which were produced and mastered by Dan Swano. Diminishing returns have definitely settled in as the similarity of tone and structure found here in relation to both Asphyx and HOB makes it difficult for these songs to stand out. And considering how Deathhammer was a fuckin' incredible Asphyx album even without the presence of Eric Daniels on guitar means this record had a steep climb to stand-out and it never quite finds its footing.

To say expectations were high is an understatement. Eric Daniels was the mastermind behind early Asphyx and his inimitable guitar style helped pioneer a genre. Few can compare when it comes to crafting sick death-doom riffs and mournfully catchy leads. Which makes the blase riffs and leads here so disappointing. I've listened to this record repeatedly and not a single riff or solo has burned into my brain yet. Even the seemingly good stuff like "And Thus The Billions Shall Burn" feels cliche -- the expected epic closer doesn't quite bring the house down this time.

As for Van Drunen, it sounds as though he mailed it in. His vocal lines, cadence, and overall performance skirts along too familiar lines. The whole project sounds this way. Here was a chance for members of both bands to stretch out in a side-project and really deliver the goods but they go through the motions instead. And I am split apart over it because there's nothing really wrong with this record (other than an overly clipped and tinny sounding production job). Fans of Asphyx, Hail Of Bullets, and OSDM in general should eat this up with a spoon but I can't personally get behind it. Having released a glut of material recently, I just feel overfed and ready for a break from these guys.