Panchyrsia
Deathcult Salvation

I haven’t heard this Belgian black metal band’s previous release, Ultimate Crescendo of Hell, but I understand that they’ve since changed their sound to avoid the Satyricon comparisons they were getting. Odd, considering that a) that’s a good thing, b) they still sound like Satyricon and c) Deathcult Salvation is impressive in its own right.

Panchrysia‘s take on black metal is thick and meaty rather than the usual tinny, ear-bleeding buzz. If this were rendered in colder tones, it would recall some of Thorns‘ clinical, slicing work (key example: “Chaos Injector”), but the hefty production, courtesy of Marduk bassist Magnus “Devo” Andersson, gives it a different type of menace altogether. There’s a good, filthy groove throughout, with a borderline Motorhead stomp surfacing on tracks like “With Dragon Wings” and the excellent “Fogbound.”

It’s the vocals that really sell the mood, though – gurgly, snarling and much more expressive than you usually hear in black metal. They frequently remind me of Dimmu Borgir, modulating up and down like Shagrath’s theatrical delivery. While distinctive at first, I eventually got a little tired of all the dramatics – unavoidable given how high they sit in the mix. Panchrysia even changes things up a bit on “Morituri Te Salutant,” floating breathy, snide female vocals (from Belgian singer/songwriter Leen de Haes) over bluesy doom. Sounds like a scowling chanteuse slithering atop a piano in some smoky black metal speakeasy.

Occasionally, Panchrysia works in some instrumental interludes, and I am pleased to say that they are not the usual organ-heavy Gothic grandeur that many bands seem to reach for. Instead, we get some lurching, doom-laden marches straight out of classic Hammer horror films – tuba, pounding bass drums or the lonely bassoon that closes out “Cult Driven.”

Deathcult Salvation is well worth a listen for those of already black-inclined, but more importantly, if you never saw the appeal and have always wanted something a bit more muscular.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
July 9th, 2008

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