Saturday, February 28, 2015
Chapel of Disease - The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art 
Great album covers is always a major attraction for me, and are an equally good source of attraction for death and black metal bands who crave sounds of occult, doomed subterranean antiquity, but it's a shame half of the albums with great visual distinction merely gloss over the allure of their content. Chapel of Disease's 2012 debut ''Summoning Black Gods'' was fun exercise in old school death metal which went by the trajectory of Death, Pestilence, Sinister and some Autopsy, but was no real highlight in a year already stocked with excellent, creepy death metal offerings that ranged from Necrovation to Putrevore. It's a shame that most bands don't catch the gist of it in the first place. So you can bet I was a tad morose that the new album by the Germans wasn't much of a switch in color palettes, or equally ludicrous as the album title, but merely a minor readjustment of settings that prompts something of a psychedelic 70's feel into lurching old school death metal monotony.
Well, it isn't necessarily a monotony, because the Germans still do fairly good job at keeping some constancy and excitement throughout songs which go on for 6+ minutes, with insultingly enjoyable death/thrashing mania and accessibly searing guitar tones reaching back to early Pestilence. There's no denying that a sizable portion of this record dials all the way back to 1988, taking a huge slice of ''Malleus Maleficarum'' alongside it, with the rest channeling 1989-1993 at random and scraping off the 'old school' off everything from ''Human'' era Death, early Demolition Hammer to Morbid Angel, and this was one record which I felt the thrash was expressively more dominant than the death influence, particularly the fluid and blistering track ''Life is But a Burning Being'' which basically sounds like what Morbid Saint would have recorded on ''A Spectrum of Death'' if they'd been living under a stronger Teutonic influence with perhaps a dosage of Pink Floyd. Seriously, if there is any major step forward here from the debut, it's the odd psychedelia and melodic sentimentality interposed between the harsh, abrogating speed/thrash barrage and standardized old school death metal tremolos. There is a strong death/doom feel to the album that reverberates quite strongly as well, but while it makes for some good atmosphere the slower sections didn't always gel with the frantic death/thrash incursions. Despite that, the vocals, great as before, bark out like hell hounds in the night, leaving you dazed with a devilish take on Martin van Drunnen's legendary inflection.
The record is almost in conjunction with Horrendous' latest, ''Ecdysis'', which was a tour de force in the school of skin shedding and revitalization, albeit to a much larger degree than this one. The Germans are also embracing a veritable appreciation for oriental melodies, lead riffs and arbitrarily placed acoustic guitar sequences, which, though still inchoate, suggest a nice structural change which should be even more pronounced on their third record. The ending track ''... of Repetitive Art'' is a ripping wall of semi-technical thrash riffs with haunting intro put in front of it, and resonates surprisingly well for a 10-minute monster. Again, aside from certain sequences, this album didn't made me raise my eyebrows. The drudging ''The Mysterious Ways...'' was all too boring and could as well have been replaced by an ambient sound of occult magicians high on some demoniac drug for all I care. So forget all that I said about good album covers and bad music. This is definitely a great album cover, and the music is solid, too. Maybe lacking in the visceral or aural pomp which I would seek for in 21st century old school death metal revival scheme perhaps, but nonetheless a highly listenable effort that could burgeon into something far more enthralling in the future.
Life is But A Burning Life
The Dreaming of the Flame