Chapel of Disease
Summoning Black Gods

From the minute I first heard Germany’s Chapel of Disease, I immediately thought they’re not only a great fit for FDA Rekotz (that label has a ton of affection for Death-tinged, 90s inspired death-thrash) but also that without attempting to shoot for the hilltop or reinvent the wheel and all of its components, they truly know how to invoke a fucking mood. Instead of dragging their feet all across the board when they get doomy (the way a whole bunch of death metal bands have done it this year, losing sight of the fact that there’s a possibility to be brutal even when slowing down their pace), they actually have an organic grit in the way they decide to have fun with their slightly more rock and roll song passages. I was impressed by that aspect of their sound mainly, but also by the fact that they’re a very impulsive band – they follow their goddamned heart instead of trying too damned hard to over tech all of us (or out-tech the next guy; not sure what the kids even call it these days). Thus, a lot of the solos on here sound truly original and go against the grain – the drumming won’t upset Death fans either; the guy behind the kit knows his prog and how to integrate it well into the thrashiest sections of the record. The bassist also sounds like a fun dude and he’s audibly very seasoned stylistically – to cap it all off, I think I heard some faint Sabbath jam-outs scattered into bits of these songs, and that did wow me all across the room; again, I finally get the impression I’m hearing a death metal band nail vintage and ballsy retrorock even in a context where you’d think it doesn’t have its place to fit in.

”Summoning Black Gods” immediately indicates that ambiance ain’t lost on this bunch and I do think that in the case of this one album, it doesn’t overstep. This intro induces chills in this 80s splatter gore horror film type of cool manner and doesn’t even require a body being decapitated to give me the impression a couple dead fellas are gonna pile up in one corner of this turf soon. The guitar sound is razor sharp from the minute it hauls ass around. This doomy intro riff is catchy and absorbing. The riffage at 2.08 has a great sense of groove, additionally to being tight as fuck. The drumming is very frenetic, and the frontman’s screams are awesome to listen to. This truly is a well-oiled machine right out the gate. I’m digging the proggier riffs around 3.07, for the simple reason that they sound like downright filth, and that shift in pace at 3.25 is nicely calculated. The downtempo tendencies these guys have every now and again are good news, I tell you – they’re engrossing rather than tiring or totally aggravating. The solo section is eerie and technical (without being some over the top eye roll). It has plenty of vitality. ”Descend to the Tomb” is a favorite of mine, and sure doesn’t lack on the Urgency front. The drumming is tempestuous and the main riff is anxiety-filled, scoring major points in the Feel Your Craft department. Actually, I’d even go as far as saying that the riffage paving the way to the first verse reminds me of old school Slayer (this ain’t the only time I had a thought for the Kerry King style of playing over the span of this one listening session). On the flipside, the downtempo (yes, downtempo) pacing of the first verse is pure despair. 2.44 goes straight back into this gnarly old school thrash we all love. The solo is yet again stylish and just skillful enough. It wails and bleeds and plows on. The vocal is intense as ever. This track’s chorus also happens to be incredibly loyal to the earliest incarnation of the death-thrash genre, which is only one of ’em traits that make it a focus track IMO.

”Dead Spheres” has a suspenseful intro, with a clear direction in terms of melody. I’m liking the color of the riffs in the first verse, building up to a peak at 1.41 that just happens to be very evil and organic in spite of not being original at all. Even though some riffs in this tune sound choked, they gotta be fucking great to mosh to. The drumming, at 2.25, truly goes for another kick ass prog moment, slaying the mid-tempo frame of mind. It’s a section that takes a while to fully develop, but it’s still quite interesting to me. The main issue with this track is the rushed ending – it’s like them tv shows that end up on the chopping block from the minute they build to the best story arc the writers could possibly figure out.

”Evocation of the Father” has so many shades and different approaches all rolled up into one single delivery, it’s tough not to dig in with an eagerness that gets constantly renewed as it morphs on. The contemplative bass work in the intro is rad, to begin with. The vocal is more and more gripping at this point. The background riffage goes for this really airy vintage doom schtick which I find absurdly enjoyable (at all moments of this record, really – I was floored by that surprise, I don’t like doom in death metal much, as I might’ve over-repeated before). 1.06 introduces this sub-par, but still effective riff, leading into a mid-tempo stroll that works, without playing circles around much of anything let alone the other (superior) tracks. It’s not a bad one by any stretch, and the variations keep it improving, but I still wouldn’t go back to this one the most often. It’s more like some sort of a jam-out rather than a compact and staccato delivery of mind-blowing acrobatics. It’s still enjoyable for what it is though, if solely for the feel. The soloing gets more interesting 2 minutes in, and the groovy riffage 19 seconds later seems to be just the right U-Turn this tune needed to start rocking harder. The bass drum here sounds really mint. Things really get more hectic and mental as the track closes out. The atonal half-melodies at 4.10 truly invoke an unstable mood clearly, and the cinematic licks ’bout 5 minutes are original and intricate.

”The Nameless City” is old school and engaging. The prog-thrash riffs are, yet again, groovy, and well-built. The verse riffs are a tad too repetitive, albeit reasonably good. I gotta admit the main thing about this track that stuck right out at me was the seriously cool retro rock-sounding rhythm section at 3.11. It’s a ballsy turn-around that genuinely feels Sabbath’y. ”Hymns to the New Land” has a true voice in terms of feel and the biggest intent to fucking slay. The proggy riffage and the technique switches of the drummer’s – it all creates suspense with just the right touch of technical geekism. The riffs know just how to avoid sounding dated, taking direct advice from the previous tune. It’s a well-balanced track shifting between some of the best thrash on this record so far, the aforementioned prog route, and the groovy riffage+sledgehammer drumming death metal fury. ”Exli’s Heritage”, on the other (read: opposite) plane of thought, heads straight back to the 80s Slayer terrain. It’s not the kind of song that wastes any time- both the riffage and the drumming are teethy as hell. It’s an apocalyptic and sincerely fucking freeing modus operandi. It’s all a simple, but very venomous and effective structure built on fast and slicing chugging.

The main downer for me in ”The Loved Dead” is def that the slightly goofy and very retro downtempo doom riffage in the beginning of the tune could’ve reared its head a few more times along the way. This turned into a bit of a sub-par and deja-vu death-thrash song quicker than it should’ve. The soloing seems to be hellbent on following its instinct, and that’s the only part of this cut I think really stands the test of time. All else in this one structure was certainly done better over the rest of the album’s length, no hesitation on that statement at all.

There ain’t a single trace of a doubt in my mind that this will quench the thirst of many. It’s a mighty fucking fine album, a cool band, and a rad label backing it up to boot. Fetch the package and enjoy it for what it is instead of worshiping over polished death metal that strives to be something it ain’t. Nothing beats Organic, and this is the type of record that doesn’t end up as the weak link in your collection after 3-4 spins – it’s solid,and takes on a life of its own. Feel is very important in all genres of metal, and Chapel of Disease do show they know that very well, and that’s also something that should get old schoolers like me talking for a bit.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
December 17th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: Scott Alisoglu

    Brilliant review!


  2. Commented by: Noch

    Thanks dude. Gonna be spending a lot of time with this record for damned sure.


  3. Commented by: Deepsend Records

    Noch, you should be paid for your reviews…


  4. Commented by: Noch

    I’m sure thinking of keeping it goin’ and grabbing as many opportunities as possible. I have a couple projects I’m sitting on atm and those will help me tweak up my technique and learn even more about the music so I can keep going in-depth. I have a webzine and paperback magazine idea. Doubt it’ll be this stellar money-maker but I think the real cash is the amount of stuff you learn. Afterwards situations come up where you can push on. Sure would love to have a career in music, been working at it 40 hours a week for years. I’m setting up a business, and I’m quite sure it’ll blossom quick. I’m increasingly addicted to what I do. Best damned way to get anything done is to be obsessed with it. ;)


  5. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    I want this CD but I can find it…NOWHERE.


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