His Divine Shadow

California’s Condemned are back after 6 long years with their 3rd brutal offering, His Divine Shadow.  Original member, guitarist, Steve Crow, had to replace a lot of members years ago.  I saw them live on their tour with Wormed, and Cognitive, a few years back and they ripped the place apart.  Guest vocalist, at the time, Sam Townsley was filling in and did an outstanding job and then was promoted to the ranks of their full time singer.

The previous albums, Desecrate the Vile and Realms of the Ungodly are still considered to be some of the best brutal death metal, coming from California and in general, His Divine Shadow will platoon them even further.  After an intro, “Dawn” comes raging in with a killer mid-paced part, before the blast erupts and Sam, is guttural, but also I can clearly make out what he’s saying, excellent vocal delivery. The 1.19 is the Holy Shit part with the isolated guitar part before erupting into a teutonic grand slam of a part which will have body parts flailing in the pits.  Guitar riffing and pinch harmonics are all over the place and the end slamming groove section is quite vicious.  “Legion” is another excellent tune, slicing right into a blast beat and some monstrous guitar riffing and the 51 second part features a great blast beat and nice audible bass guitar.  The one thing about Condemned is the guitar work and that is attributed to Steve Crow, who has a knack of throwing in pinch harmonics, in between heavy riffing, but all original and memorable.

“Nefarious Sanguine Decree” has a little intro and I was happy to see the word Nefarious in a song title, you don’t see that word in death metal titles all that often.  After about a minute the double bass comes right through your speakers with super fast guitar riffing and then a monster riff, which will drop a sledgehammer over your head, before Sam growls and onto a blast beat. Excellent drum rolls at around the 3.35 mark and rolling pit riffing all over the place.  I can only imagine pits destroying clubs, especially with the opening pit riff and towards the end.  This is one of the finest Condemned songs out there and would make an excellent live song to open a show with.  Have that little intro bleeding through the club’s sound system, right before that massive riff and double bass comes in. OMG, the place would be left in a shambles.

The title track is awesomely brutal with some spacey/atmospheric phase guitar elements at the 1.20 part.  Super cool and then some melody, believe it or not, with Sam growling like he’s devouring your children’s brains and vomiting them all over the place.  “The Hive Ablaze”, thus far, has the monster pit riff of 2017.  It occurs at the 1.26 part, you will know it when you hear it.  It will make you want to heave Toyota Prius’ through the air, since they’re as light as feathers, and you can play ping pong with them across the entire mid-atlantic coast, if you so desire.

SO there you have it, His Divine Shadow, which was mixed at Mana Studios in Florida and mixed by Alan Douches.  Yes, this is the best Condemned has ever sounded and even tops Realms of the Ungodly.  I was uncertain if it could, but it does.  This is as good as brutal American Death Metal gets, folks.  Jump on this beastly monster immediately.  IndieMerch has a ton of package deals and this is the best brutal death metal album, thus far, for 2017.  Condemned have delivered the goods, once again with an astonishing and vicious album.  Buy or Die!!!


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 28th, 2017


  1. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    Realms of the Ungodly had everything you could want from a brutal death metal album. I’ll miss the vocals of Angel Ochoa (Will Cephalotripsy actually follow up?) though they did find a solid replacement without losing much. So far the production is proving to be clear enough to make out actual riffs but still dark and as heavy as brutal dm should be. Drums could use a little ‘ping’ overtone if you ask me. I’ll eventually pick it up.

  2. Commented by: Frank Rini

    Angel definitely is a real special singer for sure. But I do love Sam’s style. Has a killer 90’s vibe. I feel this is the strongest Condemned due to the riffs. Catchy and heavy beyond belief. Tracks 5-7 are such a vicious 3 song pummeling attack.

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