DEAD CONGREGATION “Promulgation Of The Fall” album review

DEAD CONGREGATIONLegacy Future is documenting the passage of death metal to a new era, as Dead Congregation are about to be crowned the new kings of the genre. Their brand new album can already be considered as a metal classic!


 

The origins: Nuclear Winter

Dead Congregation are the brain child of guitarist/vocalist A.V., an incorrigible death metal enthusiast. He has made his first steps in the music scene by performing during the 90’s in the Greek D.I.Y. hardcore punk circuit with bands like Nekriki Sigi and most importantly Nuclear Winter (Πυρηνικός Χειμώνας). The latter originally combined the cold, grim sounds of Amebix with the epic crunch of Bolt Thrower, as it can be heard on their self-titled mini-CD from 1997 (sold-out long ago, it has been repressed recently on vinyl). Later, in the 2nd period of the band’s existence, a turn has been made towards more uncompromising and radical underground death metal sounds, blending USDM (Immolation) with the Swedish darkness of Grave, Kaamos, Repugnant.

“Abomination Virginborn”, the band’s demo tape of 2003 (later pressed and sold-out on vinyl via the label of yours truly, Blastbeat Mailmurder), has displayed world class songwriting and furious execution skills. With the hindsight, it also put in evidence the good understanding between A.V. and V.V., the drummer of cult brutal death metal band Inveracity. This collaboration continues to this present day in Dead Congregation.

Early Days

Nuclear Winter wasn’t meant to be the proper vehicle for what A.V. wanted to express. The need for a new entity was imperative. The continuity between the ashes of the old and the vigor of the new was ensured by -consciously or subconsciously- picking up as a name the title of “Abomination Virginborn”‘s opening song: “Dead Congregation”.

With the release of the debut mini-LP “Purifying Consecrated Ground” in 2005 and in alignment with a handful of bands like Kaamos,whose 2nd album “Lucifer Rising” was released that same year, Dead Congregation rejuvenated death metal by resurecting the dark spirit of the genre’s beginnings and combining it with a modern mentality and intensity on all levels: songwriting, execution, concept and aesthetics. The band’s longtime friend Timo Ketola has properly visualized the band’s intentions with iconic artworks on both the mini-LP’s and the debut album’s covers.

Graves Of The Archangels

The word about D.C. has spread fast, helped by sober and devastating live performances. It was not until 2008 though and their debut full-length album “Graves Of The Archangels”, that they were widely acclaimed as a force to be reckoned with in the metal world. The album put forward an irresistible bestial pulse and a supreme blackened atmosphere, sounding classic and unheard at the same time, the Byzantine chants sampled from the Orthodox mass on the album’s opening and closing tracks (respectively “Martyrdoom” and “Teeth Into Red”) bringing forth a touch of Mediteranean darkness.

The worldwide dark death metal revival owes a lot -if not everything- to Dead Congregation and “Graves Of The Archangels”

In the following years, the D.C. war machine has converted crowds in Europe and North America, becoming more brutal and focused over the years, making everybody wonder a la Raoul Duke: “What now, what comes next?”.

DEAD CONGREGATION "Promulgation Of The Fall"

The answer to our prayers

The worldwide dark death metal revival owes a lot -if not everything- to Dead Congregation and “Graves Of The Archangels”, such is the extent to which the band has captured and actualized the dark quintessence of the genre. Therefore, it was legitimate to wonder if the Greeks could live up to the expectations and if yes, how the hell could they top themselves and deliver an even more ambitious opus.

Examining “Promulgation Of Τhe Fall” on the microscope lens is an arduous task, so hard it is to explain how Dead Congregation have managed to produce a superior follow up to an already excellent predecessor.

Examining Promulgation Of The Fall on the microscope lens is an arduous task, so hard it is to explain how Dead Congregation have managed to produce a superior follow up to an already excellent predecessor.

A.V. and T.K. still play some damn fine riffs, which have only gotten better with the years. No repetition or cloning on this department. They sound fresh and hammer nails in your skull right from the start of “Only Ashes Remain”, the album’s opener.

There’s also more variety for sure. An even more pronounced taste for crawling, majestic doom parts, such as self-titled track#2 which acts like an initiation ritual to the album, is not surprising knowing A.V.’s penchant for doom metal, notably due to his live session performances with Swedish/Chilean outfit Procession.

An impeccable flow, unforgettable lead guitars

Dead Congregation @ Deathkult Open Air 2011

There’s two departments to which Dead Congregation have certainly upgraded their craft. The first one is songwriting. They maintain a seamless flow alternating epic monoliths and paroxysmic accelerations, while still retaining a sense for risk and surprise, keeping the listener alert and on its guard, never being sure what to expect next.

The second one is lead guitars. Each guitarist shredding on its own stereo channel (left and right) in true Slayer tradition, they are melodic and epic, leaving behind the comfort zone of hysterical death metal leads. They render the material tremendously majestic and at the same time more accessible to the ears of a non-strictly death metal audience.

New bass player and a rythm section of steel

One of the main appeals of D.C. as well as a key factor of their own personal contribution to the death metal edifice, has always been their superior sense of rythmic intensity. On “Promulgation Of The Fall” they sound fine tuned to perfection. Without using a metronome when tracking the drums, they took the time to kick back , listen to them carefully and when they determined that some of the tempos did not make full justice to the songs, they did not hesitate to re-record some of them.

The album is also the discographic debut with D.C. of bass player G.S. (also from Inveracity and Cerebrum). He’s been playing with them for a few years now and from what I remember when I last saw them live, the man is a beast and a welcome addition to their scenic performance. With such an intense guitar performance, his contribution is not always easy to put forward but he’s definitely a virtuoso and has a lot to offer.

Aesthetics and concept

The front cover artwork strikes because it is in a style which is different than the current trend in the extreme metal underground scene. Designed by a local artist and not by the usual suspect and band’s friend Timo Ketola, its twisted and abstract aesthetics remind Larry Carroll‘s classic work for Slayer (“Reign In Blood”, “South Of Heaven”, “Seasons In The Abyss”) and is a welcomed and fresh visual take on the band’s realm.

And we will laugh and spit at you as you leave,
never to consider returning or looking back at us.
the tears you cry will be our Holy Communion
and with it to celebrate your final and TRUE death.
(Dead Congregation “Schisma”)

Lyrically, we are still and always into godless territory. The band attacks Judeochristian morality in a cruel and vicious way throughout a series of explicit pieces, either in the form of ominous prophecies, or as symbolic tales. As with every Dead Congregation release, there are a couple of like minded comrades who have been invited to contribute their lyrical sickness. This time we can find the works of the indispensable Timo Ketola on “Nigredo” and Haasophis from Antediluvian on “Quintessence Maligned”.Martyrdoom flyer

The sound of devastation

Dead Congregation being an extremely focused collective in total control of their art, it’s not surprising that they did what had to be done in order to equip their most ambitious effort to date with an appropriately huge sound.

Recorded locally at Studio Feedback with their own equipment, the sources tracked were so good that mixing was a relatively straightforward affair and the material kept all of the freshness and intensity it originally had when forged into the band’s rehearsal room.

I was quite impressed to learn from the band that the guitars were tracked without effects, directly plugged to the amp and recorded with a mic! Another interesting fact is that no equalizer was used on the rythm guitars – only the lead ones have some added effects. As a matter of fact, the guitars came out so huge and they dominated the mix to such extent, that they had to be nerfed a bit for the final mix!

Epitaph

These last 10 years Dead Congregation have gone a long way. However ambitious and outstanding their first steps where by rejuvenating their musical genre, bringing back the atmosphere and quality of the early 90’s  with a modern twist, they were mere hints of what would follow.

“Promulgation Of The Fall” is the testimony of a band that has transcended its mentors and roots, reaching a higher plane of musical creativity and radical expression. The ominous name of Dead Congregation shall from now on be synonymous with death metal and reckoned as one of the greatest musical acts of our time.

The ominous name of Dead Congregation shall from now on be synonymous with death metal and reckoned as one of the greatest musical acts of our time.

Total death – total support

“Promulgation Of The Fall” is released tomorrow on CD and digital formats. Concerning the CD, there is a regular jewel case edition and a digipack available exclusively from the band. It is released on their band’s new label Martyrdoom Productions, and in North America by Profound Lore Records. Digitally, you will be able to grab it from Amazon and iTunes, and later on from Bandcamp.

A vinyl version is being manufactured as we speak by NOEVDIA (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) – undeniably extreme metal’s finest record label. Focused mainly on orthodox black metal sounds, D.C. is their first death metal signing and this fact alone speaks for itself.

As a vinyl collector and the owner of a record label focused on vinyl releases, I totally support and endorse NOEVDIA’s attitude of not releasing limited editions or pressings and sticking to the essential, which is to provide highly inspiring music pressed on CD and vinyl with an extreme attention to detail. Oh and by the way, this is a long discussion amongst vinyl collectors (on forums such as Vinyl Engine) but they’re only pressing on black vinyl which is supposed to be the better sounding color (with picture discs and splatter colors being the crappiest).

DISCLAIMER: This review has been written based on an advance copy of the album provided by the band,which we have been listening to for the last three months.

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Posted on by panos.agoros in Death Metal Bands, Music

About panos.agoros

Music and computers. The same two passions that Panos has ever since he was a kid, have defined the path that he would follow in life. He studied computer science in Paris-France in the early/mid 90's and is an IT engineer, providing since 1999 support for Unix and Linux enterprise environments. He is also known to be a retro hardware scavenger and old computer collector. His love for music pushed him to become actively involved in the scene. From November 1995 until the early 00's he ran Chaotik Webzine, a pioneering music webzine and the first to provide coverage for both the metal & hardcore underground. He is for the last 15 years an editor of Metal Hammer Greece, the biggest music magazine in the country. He rans a small record label and distro, Blastbeat Mailmurder, and is also the vocalist/lyricist of critically and fan acclaimed astrogrind outfit Dephosphorus. In his lost hours he does field recordings and manipulates sound waves for his experimental noise/ambient Kommpound.

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