Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Gospel of the Slit Throat

Band: Devouring Star
Release: 'Through Lung and Heart' (2015)

It is difficult to consider comparisons to heavyweights Deathspell Omega as a disservice to any hardworking black metal band or act. For many, they represent black metal's artistic zenith, musically, lyrically and aesthetically.

The band's current sonic direction, heard only as seedlings on 'Si Monumentum...' and more recently fully abloom on 'Paracletus', has been described as everything from jazz black metal to bearing more similarities to the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan than anything ever wildly imagined by Darkthrone. Yet, despite those apparent non-sequiturs within the rigid, serious world of black metal, they are considered untouchable and invariably wholly seminal.

Finland's Devouring Star revealed themselves in 2014, brandishing a rancorous two-track, self-titled demo. Arresting, developed and ambitious, it caught a lot of warranted attention and it took no time at all for the Deathspell Omega comparisons to lazily fill headlines and column space. While the similarities and nods were audible, Devouring Star avoided all of the flattery utilised by Dutch outfit Dodecahedron, for example. In short, Devouring Star, as a contemporary black metal band, couldn't help but be influenced by Deathspell Omega, but their Finnish charm shone through the Francophilic tendencies of their peers.

While 'Through Lung and Heart' opens with yet more Deathspell Omega acknowledgement, displaying 'Kénôse'-like plodding drums beneath discordant, jarring riffing, as well as some of those The Dillinger Escape Plan-style bass-heavy, intricate, slow section breakdowns, Devouring Star manage to incorporate every aspect of this into an all-engulfing, organic sound that is very much their own. It is warm, rich and pulsating, and not a mere carbon copy.

Niceties aside, this is a merciless black metal record, with very little in the way of respite to be found track to track, no matter the music's pace. Interestingly, the band's steadfast pummelling drumming and dissonant riffing, while entirely competent and listenable, often gives way to inspired slow to mid pace sections that shed light on excellently crafted melodies, particularly in "To Traverse the Black Flame". Added to this, an unhurried section heard within the second track, "Decayed Son of Earth", is reminiscent of slower portions found on Funeral Mist's excellent 'Maranatha'.

As an entire offering and debut full-length, fortified by visuals/layout from Comaworx and Brianvdp, as well as eloquent lyrical oblations, 'Through Lung and Heart' is fantastically strong and truly haunting in many respects. While its vocals may be considered par for the course and are definitely one of the weaker aspects of this album, the rest of the musicianship is focused, suitably abrasive and memorable, unlike so much of their counterparts' output. Among a slew of post-Deathspell Omega acts, Devouring Star have set themselves apart with apparent ease. Watch this one make Best of 2015 lists later in the year.

Rating: 85%

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