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Dank deathly aromas - 87%

gasmask_colostomy, December 6th, 2017

Usually, I much prefer doom death bands to keep their genres in that order, but with Old Chapel, I'm very happy to make an exception. These Russians have sadly broken up now, but if I beg enough here maybe they'll consider reforming for another album. Let me spell out why this is so good: remember what attracted you to the first two Entombed albums? You know, the audacious gravelly guitar tone and the atmosphere of pure filth and morbidity? That's all present here, but with a slightly more doomy edge to the lyrics, which deal with subjects described accurately by titles like 'Disastrous Rite' and 'The Nightmare Room'. This is as grim as my dad's old underwear but kicks like a fucking mule, that's my point.

Visions from Beyond is also more interesting when it takes off into quicker territory because the death metal riffs are pulled off with real conviction and variety, slamming through the concrete groove of 'Skullhunter' and the mid-paced menace behind the leads of 'The Nightmare Room'. The doom sections, as expounded more liberally during 'Towards the End', are merely slower than the deathly parts, featuring more percussive presence than riffing invention, though the voice of Pavel Suslov, which is as dry as bones and about as worrying as digging them up in your garden, roars across these moments to maintain the effect of the sick stories being told. One aspect where the doom influence comes more the fore is in the solos, which sometimes shred noisily and wildly in disorganized fashion but also spread slower and darker wings of melody that echo of Cemetary on an album like An Evil Shade of Grey. These, needless to say, add the final touch to the sinister ambiance of the style.

On the song front, we are treated to the ominous lurking 'Leaving a Body', which is slow death at its finest, unquestionably outstripping Asphyx in its first twisted minute or so, before branching out into guitar melodies that would make Entombed proud that Alexey Mazur was taking such focused notes on Clandestine. On the more visceral front, 'Skullhunter' is a big success, though more at cracking skulls than hunting them, while the sample of pastoral childhood bliss at the beginning of 'The Nightmare Room' is a smart foil for the creeping horrors within. 'Disastrous Rite' probably remains my pick though, since it opens proceedings on a ghoulishly effective note and seems to have the most vibrant storytelling, which is a factor in most of the songs.

Therefore, it seems I've finally found a death metal release that I can really get behind, Visions from Beyond laying claim to praise for riffs, hooks, and atmosphere, even if the songs in the second half do not keep the high quality entirely consistent. However, the closing piece of largely instrumental acoustic/rhythmic stabbing is a fine way to alter expectations about where atmosphere can come from. Now, if only the three-piece would reform and continue the fine work they started here.