The Charnel Expanse

Zealotry is a project that features Roman Temin, a former metal journalist for blistering.com, Unchallenged Hate, as well as a couple of other skilled veterans of death and experimental metal. While Temin plays rhythm guitars and does lead vocals, he has plenty of veteran and skilled assistance by way of Philippe Tougas of Chthe’ilist and Vengeful fame on lead guitars, bassist Jason Demakis  (ex-Clairvoyance, ex-Wretched Abomination) as well as Defeated Sanity drummer Lille Gruber. The end result is a very professional and well executed slab of murky, atonal, and sometimes progressive death metal.

The primary influences are obvious with the churning, backwards riffs and distant cavernous roars as well as some of the twangy complexity — notably Immolation, Ulcerate and a dash of ’90s forward-thinking death metal acts like Cynic, Atheist and Gorguts. And the trio is pretty heavy handed with those influences throughout the album’s numerous twisty, turny riffs and muddy blasts. Temin’s and Tougas’s guitar work is fully rooted in Robert Vigna’s (Immolation) serpentine, stop/start style (“The Dysgenicists”, “The Apex Predator”) and I hear some Shaun Kelly (Dim Mak, Ripping Corpse) with Temin’s off-kilter rhythm work, but with just enough character and self-defined influences to make it a little different. Demakis brings a little flare to the table, adding the more experimental/technical undercurrent, though the mix muddies him up a little. Gruber does a nice job of playing out of his usual slammy comfort zone and performs ample fills and rolls that match the material’s visceral lurches and twists.

Highlights include the opening almost 10-minute, three-part number, “The Avatars of Contempt”, which combines huge, loathsome crawls and chaotic vortexes of atonal blasting, with even a dash of atmospherics and shows the ambition and skill the trio have right out of the gate, and for a 10-minute song, it holds your attention from start to finish. And with the opening being such an ambitious number, it’s fitting that the album is book-ended by yet another awesome closing track in “The Unmaking”. Not that tracks 2–7 are anything to scoff at as they all deliver a first rate spiral into the twisted alter ego of murky but saurian death metal, and even an instrumental number (“Codes Mysterium”). But with “The Unmaking” Temin and co add some keyboards that truly elevate the already solid discordance into far more elaborate and intellectual realms. The fittingly titled number seems to deconstruct ’90s US death metal (i.e Formulas/Gateways-era Morbid Angel) and symphonic black metal (think late Emperor‘s more progressive sound) and reconstruct them into a new species of ground breaking extremity.

While it may seem like I’m focusing on the closing track a little too much, the fact is, like the recent EP from Bolzer, it’s potentially a death metal game changer if Zealotry can further develop this in its entirety. Sure, death metal and keys have been done before (i.e. Nocturnus, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Scrambled Defuncts, etc.), but it’s usually polished, clean and shiny and not to this level of atonality and murky nihilism. Look for a full CD release of The Charnel Expanse in October of this year on Memento Mori Records, but for now, go and experience something that could blossom into something special at the band’s bandcamp link below.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 17th, 2013


  1. Commented by: martyrdoom

    Great review Erik. Love the huge Immolation influence here. I do lose some interest during the middle of the album, but these guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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