Despot
Satan in the Death Row

The world of metal may be saturated with death/black metal bands, but occasionally you find an album that stands out from the rest of the pack. Satan in the Death Row is such an album. Hailing from the same country and city that gave the world such luminaries as Sepultura and Sarcófago, Despot is an ambitious one-man project, with Marcelo Murrer Mendonça playing all instruments (except the programmed drums) and assiduously layering guitars and keyboards. The font on the cover is a tribute to Judas Priest, but the music itself encompasses many more facets of metal over the years, providing interest for a wide audience.

We begin with an intro track, ‘Divination’, a morose, foreboding start to the album, before leading seamlessly into the savage ‘Matriarch’, a wonderful slab of technical, intricate yet catchy metal. Think early Disincarnate, Death and Immolation. Marcelo provides both the soaring, clean vocals and the guttural growls, sometimes layered with each other. The song achieves a lot within six minutes, and indeed feels longer than just that.

‘Auto-da-fé’ would make the Hoffman brothers proud with its Deicide-esque low-end riffage, yet evolves into something more melodic. The short spoken word section towards the end may put those off who turned their nose up at Morbid Angel’s David Vincent when he used a similar delivery on Domination, but it’s an excellent track undoubtedly. ‘Purified by Fire’ is one of the more straightforward tracks on the album; razor-sharp rhythm guitars that don’t mess around, and blistering fretboard pyrotechnics towards the end.

The title track, which is the centrepiece of the album, channels the sinister, funeral-pyre energy of early Celtic Frost. Again, the guitar playing is highly intricate and ambitious, but without bewildering the listener – Despot do not forget when and where a straightforward thrash riff is necessary.

‘Le Roi Nu’ abandons the more traditional death/black riffage of the earlier songs and comes across as almost neo-classical – a beautifully melodic piece, but also doomy in nature, like Ireland’s Mourning Beloveth at times. Equally impressive is the following track, ‘Egregious’, with a classic thrash riff, and solos which Chuck Schuldiner would be proud of.

Satan in the Death Row is an album which keeps the listener interested throughout; particularly with the double edged salvo of ‘Le Roi Nu’ and ‘Egregious’ towards the end, arguably the best two songs on the album. Despot’s take on black and death metal with a cinematic, symphonic edge is well worth a listen for fans of all previously mentioned bands, and anyone looking for extreme metal with an edge.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jack Taylor
October 17th, 2013

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