Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Whisper of the Dead

Band: Dysangelium
Release: 'Thánatos Áskēsis' (2014)

The greatest demos ooze potential and swagger. They are self-assured, forceful declarations of intent - and when attached to relatively new acts, they can be truly unnerving. 

Released in mid-2014, the three-track 'Leviaxxis' pushed through the swathes of also-ran black metal troupes similarly vying for attention. With an approach akin to early Watain, the demo had no issue attracting recognition and building anticipation for Dysangelium's debut full-length, which was due to slither forth on a certain date ripe with implication.

To those attuned, 'Thánatos Áskēsis' may appear as nothing new or terribly fresh, but it is the approach taken by Dysangelium, complemented by a certain amount of grandstand, that levitates this release above the ever-growing Swedish black metal styled masses. Natural, discernible, echoed vocals drip with fervour and devotion. While the lyrical content may not be as developed as that presented by the likes of Deathspell Omega or Dysangelium's compatriots Ascension, it is their delivery, rounded off with arresting artwork and layout by Brianvdp, that lends a veritable sense of credibility to every track.

Mastered at Studio Emissary, a name now synonymous with class acts such as Sinmara and Svartidauði, 'Thánatos Áskēsis' is bolstered by a production that is both organic and cohesive, leaving it thoroughly accessible and never over-polished. A rumbling, dirty bass tone buttresses proceedings, integrating itself excellently within the sharp and frenzied yet melodious riff structures. The aforementioned wanton vocals, mostly a mid-level yet endlessly compelling growl, cement every minute of this release. Though percussion is competent, apt and never lost in the mix, it is quite typical of the genre and lacks any real revelation.

With its content resembling that of Chaos Omen at times, 'Thánatos Áskēsis' is a record wholly generous with its standout offerings. The varied tempos of "Words like Flames" command immersion, as do "Aries" and the spectacularly catchy "Murmura". "Chaomega", a tantalising morsel which also graced the 'Leviaxxis' demo, is an assuredly haunting track, rife with those palpable, growled vocals.

Closing track, "I Am the Witness, I Am the Servant" bursts with ardour. It is a fanatical, consuming barrage that is almost hymn-like in its definitive affirmation of faith and aspiration. Comparable to early Glorior Belli in parts, a little room is conceded to allow for effective slow to mid pace, atmosphere-laden sections before returning to the band's habitual offensive. Overall, as an inaugural full-length 'Thánatos Áskēsis' is an alluring nod to what Dysangelium have in store once their particular strain of diabolism is allowed room to breathe.

Rating: 75%

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