Sunday, December 16, 2012

Desolate Shrine - Sanctum Of Human Darkness [2012]

Desolate Shrine is one of those bands who will appeal to fans of both hammering necrotic Swedish death metal revivalists and far more atmospherically driven occult death metal acts, but, beneath the flesh, it's once again all bones and joints; nothing out of the expected. Desolate Shrine's debut ''Tenebrous Towers'' was an album that I was quite appeased with, and for one it certainly lived up for its name; a crushing monument of Cylopean pillars collapsing upon the listener in an utterly climatic, immense cavernous mess, anchored by the suppressing heft of gigantic, skull-buttering Swedish chainsaws rippling in a rampaging orgy - it was certainly a big fucking record. Intent on smothering more cranial content, the Finns arrive with a sophomore, ''Sanctum Of Human Darkness'' that not only fancies the same crushing outing of the previous effort but also presents the listener with a panoply of spectral galore.

What I absolutely love about this is the pace. ''Sanctum...'' lumbers in a mid paced Bolt Thrower groove, particularly akin to ''Realm Of Chaos'', but, also keep in mind that despite sounding a lot like a concoction of Entombed/Dismember and Muknal, Innumerable Forms, Witchrist and Antediluvian, the band fabricates a formula that doesn't necessarily classify as both. The frothing, uproarious curvatures and blast of the Swedish tone is unlike anything I've heard before, even the harshest of Swedish chainsaw serial killers can't conjure up a tone that delivers such burdened sonic intensity. The band rarely eschews monotony from the pressurizing bombast, and when all the songs are no shorter than six minutes you naturally want more drudgery to take place then straight up aggression, but on some occasions (''Chalice Of Flesh & Bone'', ''Funeral Chamber''), gloomy subtleties transcend into furious impulses and the band immediately surfaces from their subterranean indulgence and take onto rougher, headbang-friendly discourses, though one should be informed that even in energy-abundant tracks, there's a heavy trace of the trio's impregnable doom influence.

Overall, even though I previously stated that Swedeath fans might enjoy this, death metal occultists are still more likely to feel the album's compressing enigma as pleasure. Just like some of the dominant Incantation worships or blackened death metal acts, ''Sanctum...'' displays more efficiency in submersing the listener in dense intricacy than raging in a frivolous surge, and especially after you've been through fifty-five minutes of hammering caused from a drumming giant pummeling your skull, you end up more oppressed than revitalized.  Thus, Desolate Shrine exceeds their previous effort, and more importantly, sticks to the old school formula. There's plenty of mournful caveman out there, but while this may not broaden your horizons by any means, it's still a better mining site than many of its peers and Dark Descent Records certainly made a hell of descent with this one. Don't you dare forget to bring provisions; this journey will take you deep. And I do mean deep. 

Demon Heart
Pillars Of Salvation
Funeral Chamber

Rating: 86%

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