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A powerful death doom debut with a deep and tough sound - 85%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 29th, 2020

Formed in Barcelona in 2016, Proscrito released its debut EP "El Calvario" in 2017 but then went quiet on the studio-recording front for the next few years with a change of drummer in 2019 and commitments to other bands (Arropiero, Voidkush) in the doom metal scene. After almost three years, Proscrito finally released its debut album "Llagas y estigmas" ("Sores and stigmata") in January 2020.

Right from the get-go, with opening track "Persistiendo", these guys mean business of the Satanic kind: Proscrito's sound is tough and heavy in a very slow chugga-chugga way, with a gritty, crumbly texture and deep sound. The vocals are just as low and guttural as you'd expect from a death doom band, coming from deep within a mud-encrusted mutant humanoid amphibian swamp monster's throat after it's crunched down on some stone rocks to help digest a human victim who strayed too close to the water's edge. Percussion rumbles and thunders at a steady pace. Poisonous and oily lead guitar solo plays over part of the song while denizens of the swamp call out to each other in their slurpy tones.

"Tronos de oprobio" is a faster and cleaner track with melodic and rhythmic death metal elements and plenty of that serpentine lead guitar, too slick and oily and toxic for ordinary mortals to tolerate for very long. This song has an even mix of death and doom metal in spite of its relatively smooth and clean sound; I guess even swamp monsters get a bit tired of carrying all that decaying plant gunk around on their backs. The doom metal becomes stupendous with steely riffs zooming up the scale and plunging heavily back down and is easily one of the best moments of the entire album.

Subsequent songs follow a similar death / doom template as "Tronos de oprobio" with humongous riffs that abseilers could hang their ropes off the top of, and scale right down never to be seen again, the gurgling voices of the reptilian and amphibian beasties in abyss glad to see the humans, and that slickly malevolent guitar sound that makes you sick to your stomach. The music is chunky and tough, revving up and ready to rock at its own pace, grinding one and all into the ground. The album's production is no-nonsense clean, allowing the music and the vocals to stand on their own considerable merits. Outro all-instrumental track "Pantalgia" is an outlier in this respect, with a definite steaming atmosphere that reeks of evil, the whole song itself heading into a dark and murky arena that slows it right down and forces occasional bursts of guitar drone hysteria. While the track has some experimental aspects, these are too few in a long piece that comes close to being self-indulgent and which could have benefited from some editing for length.

Apart from some of the more monotonous and repetitive parts of the last track, Proscrito's debut album delivers very chompy and enjoyable death doom especially in "Persistiendo", by far the stand-out of the album. The rest of the album features powerful booming doom but for some reason the sound is cleaner and more conventional. I would have liked the whole album to have been more crusty with that thick groaning grit texture continuing all the way through. This would have compensated for the songs not having distinct pop-catchy riffs and melodies, not that the Proscrito men would care much for the whims of listeners. As it is, this album is a great way to start a year's worth of metal worship and is likely to make a lot of people's Top Ten Metal Pick lists for 2020.