Council of the Fallen
Revealing Damnation

Council Of The Fallen is the blackened death metal project involving numerous high-profile names from the U.S. death metal scene. We have Sean Baxter (Broken Hope, Em Simfonia), drummer Derek Roddy (Malevolent Creation, Hate eternal, Divine Empire, Nile), and Kevin Quirion (Aurora Borealis) – all U.S. death metal veterans, so I was more than a little skeptical to hear their attempt at black metal. In my experience, when death metallers try to do black metal the results have been less than impressive (see Goatwhore, Wurdulak).

Well, I was more than surprised and completely blown away by the scathing output of blasting, twisting and downright fucking heavy death/black metal amalgamation that exploded from my speakers; and, in truth, matches and outweighs much of the cliched wimpy Euro black/death. In short, this is brilliant debut from a side project that may surpass their full-time bands in sheer aggression, melodic prowess and brutal balance. Imagine if you will a very, very heavy and downtuned Epoch Of Unlight, with guttural vocals (along with Quiron’s high-pitched screech), and you might be getting close to Council Of The Fallen’s sound. Add to that the innate death metal stabs injected by the member’s obvious primary influences, and you get huge American death style breakdowns intermingled with the breakneck, yet often harmonious blasting.

 Hard to imagine right? Well, Council Of The Fallen have successfully pulled it off; the only problem is describing this as black metal with death metal influences or death metal with black metal attitude. Either way, it fucking shreds and destroys. Boasting a deep, but clear production, with a rumbling bottom end, the scathing black metal chords are no longer confined to the treble graveyard while the gaudy death metal vibe gives the epic and blasting riffs a deep resonant and thick feel, more akin to Aeternus. The hateful harmonies lashed out in “Shadowed Horizon” display the band’s grasp of black metal dynamics that even supercedes some of the America’s supposedly pure black metal bands. The superb opening salvo of “Lying In Wait” is Epoch Of Unlight being dragged through a death metal grinder. It’s mountainously epic but also dirty and sublimely crushing. Roddy shows why he is in such high demand as he punishes his kit mercilessly, to produce some of the best Norwegian blasting that didn’t come from Norway, giving is us a brief percussive outro to end the track.

Some of the sheer aggression comes close to careening into the indecipherable. “Cloaked in Isolation” and “Demon Winds” blow by with breathless speed, but Council Of The Fallen, with all their collective experience, mange to somehow always reign in the speed at the right moment, and deliver a skillful time change or a skull-crushing riff of gut-spilling heaviness. Take the aneurysm-inducing breakdown at 2:24 of “Remnants of Existence”, a sudden change of pace that takes you off guard from the abrasive speed of the rest of the track. It’s like someone edited a Suffocation section right into the middle of a Mayhem song. Again, the schizoid nature of the black/death metal beast surfaces in “Confronting the Absence.” A pure death metal track of Floridian staccato riffing soon transforms into a blazing power chord holocaust of Anaal Nathrakh-like intensity, then just when you think you’ve got them penned, they burst out a rumbling downtuned closing riff that pulverizes everything.

And so it continues throughout the album, a constantly morphing caustic noise that twists and lurches from all-out speed of the Northern sky, to the sour gurgle of the swamps. It’s all done with balance, skill and precision that’s would be expected from its talented members. Revealing Damnation is a devastating album that provides a true defintion of what black/death metal should be, without out any filler, gimmicks or total recreation of the members other projects. To its complete benefit, it sounds like a unique entity, rather than some death metal guys trying their hand at black metal. Personally, I think it blows away anything I’ve heard by the members other bands, and should be a landmark of U.S. extreme metal that gives a vicious warning of what’s to come in the near future. I only hope that the others intersts of the members don’t stop this better oufit from producing more of the same.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 23rd, 2002

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