Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2014
For those who aren’t acquainted with this Spanish group, they play putrid and uncompromising old-school death metal at its finest with hints of other extreme forms of metal. Their music is heavily based on brutal, low-key riffs with even lower tuning, accompanied by manic and primitive drumming. On rare occasions, this sepulchral pummeling is interrupted by rather unmusical guitar solos that fancy insane shredding, arpeggios and whammy-bar abusing (Slayer, anyone!?). The vocals are mainly grunting and growling as if delivered from beyond the living world, and with no clear rhythmic patterns or arrangements, as they are presented more like frenzied bursts of phrases or haunting devilish praise. Add to these factors that the songs themselves are erratic and illogically built harvesters of Chaos without any regular structures, and you’re really starting to feel like you’re embarking on a seriously dangerous trip when experiencing Death.
The lyrics highly remind me of the likes introduced by Funeral Mist, Ofermod or Deathspell Omega with their devout and mind-bending subject matters. Yes, I know there has been a lot of complaining about bands of this type, but Teitanblood feels somehow different. When reading the lyrics – alongside the music or without it – you can sense that this duo is really carrying the black flame inside their hearts. The texts are not to be understood easily, requiring a lot of time and effort, but what they (and this aural experience as a whole) have to give in return is much more rewarding. Getting familiar with the lyrics is highly recommended, as they complete the music perfectly.
Now that the main features of Teitanblood’s second full-length ritual have been revealed, let us focus on the album more precisely! From the very beginning it’s clear that the intentions of the worshipers are malevolent; no intros or preludes of any kind are needed, as the opener “Anteinfierno” explodes on the listener’s ears from the very first second. The air is filled with primitive pounding, screaming and non-apologetic death metal chugging. And when this first, rather short (under 5 minutes, whereas the other songs are much longer) piece is over, it’s followed by three giants of a song, festering with malignancy. These ones are musically more varied, as there are heavier and more oppressive parts, reminding me of some US death metal groups with more mid-tempo material. Especially in “Plagues of Forgiveness” there’s this particularly haunting part with sparse guitar work and percussive drumming that really gives you the sensation that something dire is imminent.
The latter part of the album starts off with a little time-out; the fifth song “Unearthed Veins” is a brief piece with only a few lines of lyrics and vocals, and filled with dismal atmosphere. This gives the impression that maybe Death is loosening its grip on your throat, but one couldn’t be more wrong. Teitanblood strikes back more violently than expected with the album’s greatest offerings, continuing its merciless and satanic death metal brutality. The last two songs are easily the finest and most varied compositions on here, giving an honorable ending to what must be the most outstanding musical release thus far this year. After the long instrumental outro at the end of the final song, including menacing ambience with string arrangements, funerary bells and chanting choirs, one will really know what the true sound of Death is.
Give yourself in or drop out.
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