Church of Death

For $5 how can you go wrong? That may depend on whether your life revolves around daily financial decisions concerning choices between items like a pack of Pall Malls and diapers for your woefully neglected infant. But for the rest of you, Vanhelgd’s Church of Death is a steal at that price. Old school and Swedish, but not exactly old school Swedish death metal, Church of Death offers an intelligently composed, insidious group of songs that are sometimes more Finnish than Swedish in the depths of their darkness, at other times more Dissection than Dismember, and at all times rather captivating.

Vanhelgd bring to the table a blended style that is familiar in one sense, yet not easily pigeonholed. In simplest terms, it is a chilling, pummeling, melodic, and varied – often all in the same song – form of death metal that works best as a front-to-back listening experience. The arrangements are well thought out and while a common thread somehow keeps each song connected to the others, no single track is quite like another. “Mänsklighetens Finala Ruin” (one of several sung in the band’s native tongue) deftly matches fast two-beat OSDM with mournful melodies, while the particularly memorable “Point of No Return” involves several tempo changes that move from blast to two-beat to down tempo. Both cuts are representative of the album’s arrangement diversity, yet not to the same extent as the title track; the song inclusive of some penetrating folk-based guitar melodies (“The Final Storm” has a bit of that too) and an overall epic quality that belies its six-minute duration. In fact, the album boasts several moments that are just plain cool, including the magnificent galloping bass/drum break during “Saepius in Auro Bibitur Venenum.” Logic would then seem to dictate that the album close with six and a half minutes of doom ‘n creep called “Alone With the Dead,” a title also befitting the situation in which you may find yourself once you’ve made it that far.

Listen an extra time or two and you’ll start recognizing sections that remind not only of the aforementioned Dissection, but also Infinitum Obscure and Obscure Infinity, although both acts channel the Swedish legends in one form or another anyway. You can toss in a pinch of Necrophobic into that bubbling cauldron too and still might end up hearing influences that have as yet escaped me. A production that emphasizes the fat low-end and fuzzed out tones, as well as the motoring riffs, makes Church of Death even more appealing. Somehow the disc hits all the right buttons when you still desire death, yet need something a bit different. In that sense, Church of Death may not be an album you can play in just any ole mood, but when that mood does strike, you’d better strapped yourself in tight and get ready for the harrowing journey into darkness that is about to ensue. Besides, it’s only $5 to direct order it from Nuclear War Now! For what are you waiting?




[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
August 4th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Fantastic write-up. You summed up my feelings about this album perfectly. If prefer the debut over this one, though… check it out if you haven’t heard it.
    The cover art is sick (done by one of the members) as well…. one of the very few albums I choose to purchased on PICLP instead of good old black vinyl because of the awesome artwork. It conjures the vibe of the album perfectly.

  2. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    eeesh…sorry for the horrible typos ^ :/

  3. Commented by: vugelnox

    the debut was better I agree but this is a pretty decent slab o’ death. As you pointed out Scott half of the reason I grabbed it was because it was only $5 (and I wanted the new Villains album)

  4. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    “Infinitum Obscure and Obscure Infinity.”

  5. Commented by: bucky

    is it just me or is the cover art REALLY REALLY similar to ‘Killing Process’ by Carcariass?

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