When Dead Congregation released their debut full-length Grave of the Archangels in 2008, it felt like a crucial moment for death metal, and not many bands can boast that. Up to then the style’s direction had seemed a little one-directional – the bigger groups were glossy and focused on instrumental mastery over feel and atmosphere. But that album drew heavy inspiration from an especially vicious and unfriendly strain bred in New York during the late 80s and unwittingly opened the floodgates for what we now affectionately know as Incantationcore.
Wait, come back, this is no bad thing! It was as though a whole new generation decided to proffer their take on death metal played the “old school” way at once, with these brazen Greeks leading the charge as an example of a band doing it right. It’s been six years so of course their follow-up, Promulgation of the Fall, comes highly anticipated.
What’s immediately striking on opener ‘Only Ashes Remain’ is the ferocity of the drumming, effortlessly driving the music while still sounding like it’s grinding against the grain, gathering inexplicable amounts of energy ready to drop the next filthy breakdown. The result is devastating and remains a fixture for the rest of the album. Riffs flagellate the soul, coming served either in slow, fleshy chunks or swift, sinuous slivers. That is until the title track emerges, led by an icy melody reminiscent of mid-era Deathspell. Suave. From there, Dead Congregation make their intentions clear – this is not “old school”, this is how death metal is meant to be played.
With the occult knowledge of black metal powered by grindcore’s brutality and the chops of the tech-death old guard, the variety is wild. ‘Nigredo’ is oppressive in its violence but gives way beautifully to album highlight ‘Schisma’, which at seven minutes long is split down the middle by a cavern of searing drones and feedback. On one side, groovy riffs and harmonic squeals invite the listener to think they’re a badass. On the other, Portal-esque cosmic horror reigns supreme. Lyrics? Concept? The album’s called Promulgation of the Fall. You’re heshers, you can work it out. Basically, if you too have enjoyed the direction death metal seems to be taking right now, it’s essential. Martyrdoom Productions for CD, No Ev Dia for LP. Digital above and it’s on Spotify too.