Dead Congregation
Graves of the Archangels

I had seen the debut full length from Greece’s Dead Congregation thrown around by those ‘in the know’, but for some reason never checked them out until I recently received the re-issued 2005 EP, Purifying Consecrated Ground (review coming soon), enjoyed it, and decided to go and find Graves of the Archangels.

And boy am I glad I did. Released at the beginning of this year, Graves… is a fucking great old school death metal record. And I don’t mean they are a collection of guys forcing their hand at a particular classic style and paying homage, but a band that plays brilliant death metal, that just happens to sound old school-but in an organic and natural way, not forced. Immediately, most pundits will recognize the heavy, heavy Immolation/ Incantation influence, and rightly so as the riffs are muddy, churning, backwards sounding and the vocals of Anastasis Valtsanis have that deep cavernous, Ross Dolan bellow. However, there is a lot more going on here. Thanks to the drumming of Vagelis Voyiantzis (Inveracity) everything has a more dynamic and complex feel than simple old school grumbling, and the guitar work seems to cull from the Floridian scene (early Deicide) as well as the likes of Autopsy. However, you could easily overstate the Immolation /Incantation influence (which is a little more prevalent on the EP), but the fact is I have never really got into those two bands, yet here I am truly enjoying Dead Congregation-take it as you will.

Starting with the Autopsy worshipping scrawl of instrumental opener “Matryrdoom”, “Hostis Humani Generis”, “Morbid Paroxysm” and “Vanishing Faith” then delivers three rumbling jack hammer assaults, with “Morbid Paroxysm” and “Vanishing Faith”, showing the grasp of Immolation styled riffage mixed with killer blast beats, which show Dead Congregation are making the style their own. Then things get really good as the album takes a deep, hacking breath with the doomy, oozing start of “Voices”, before it careens into a gurgling blast beat, showing a glimpse of the band’s slower, menacing style that’s fleshed out on the following title track and parts of “Source of Fire”. Starting with austere Monk chants and then evolving into an almost black metal melody line (that reappears on short blaster “Subjugation”, the 8 minute title track and simply stunning (also 8 minute) closer “Teeth Into Red” are quite simply two of the more enthralling death metal songs of 2008. The almost lone, minimalist blast beat that starts at 2:35 (stick around till the end of the song for a reprise) and the resurfacing Monk/choral closing of “Teeth Into Red” is just breath taking.

With so much big name death metal being released in 2008 since this album’s January release, it would be easy to miss this obscure but brilliant slab of death metal, that’s surely one of the best death metal albums of 2008.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 20th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yeah I got a copy of Purifying Consecrated Ground too (which I will cross off my to-do list, it’s all you) and really enjoyed it.


  2. Commented by: Anxiety Hangover

    This is/will be the best death metal album of 2008, no contest. This could’ve been a perfect follow up for Onward to Golgotha, only heavier and more evil. Absolutely essential death metal purchase.


  3. Commented by: shadows of the sun

    Felt like listening to this today and re-read this review. This is, imho, one of the best death metal albums ever released and five years have not diminished its power in the least. Waaaay recommended. Now, if they’d only get a new album out…


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