Artwork by Timo Ketola
2. Sleeping Throats of the Antichrist
3. Plagues of Forgiveness
4. Cadaver Synod
5. Unearthed Veins
6. Burning in Damnation Fires
7. Silence of the Great Martyrs
Death is an inherently dualistic phenomenon – on the one hand, it is the liberating force from our inevitably finite mortal coils, giving us a logical and ineluctable end to our somatic existences. And on the other hand, it is the ever ready escapist gateway that serves as an immediate deliverance from our corporeal beings, a channel of easy escape from the awry finitudes and delimitations of our bodily existences. In the context of modern heavy music, few artists present legitimately intelligent musings and introspections on the metaphysics surrounding iconoclasm, theurgy, death and the left-hand path like Spain’s Teitanblood. Unabashed in their explorations of the arcane while maintaining a sense of enigmatic expression in their aesthetic sensibilities, both sonic and visual, Teitanblood channels an aural sense of dread while catechizing the supposed immanence of our existences by using the very theologically conformist concepts they are inimical towards as weapons of narrative building and evolution. If ‘Seven Chalices’ was the band’s foray into a Qliphotic quagmire of ritualistic mercilessness and occult-driven chaos, Teitanblood’s sophomore ‘Death’ is a solidification of all these dissident thematic explorations atop an ominousness that is almost apocalyptic in its scope.
Pics of Achintya’s personal copy of the album
Invoking influences as diverse as Blasphemy, Incantation, Celtic Frost, Autopsy and a slew of other black/death metal bands into its stylistic mould and yet never directly borrowing from them (which is why mentioning these possible influences is a bit of a futile exercise), with ‘Death’, there is no calm before the storm, not the slightest hint of warning and instead the gross disarray and turmoil is immediately brought to fore, as the rumbling opening track ‘Anteinferno’ effectively illustrates, breaking directly into a kinetic sense of riff phrasing that is simply blistering at first impression but quite obviously has a very well thought out sense of frenzy to it. Keeping in line with structural dexterity, Teitanblood allows for periodic and often trudging breaks yet quickly picks up pace and expedite the sonic canvas with its majestic yet inherently primal chord progressions. With a cavernous aesthetic that is as dense as the sometimes obfuscating oscillations of the simplistic yet immensely formidable riffs, and the intense blast-beats of J that catapults these subterranean constructions forward, the bludgeoning soundscapes that are painted by the duo evoke an entropic range of sensations that paint abstractions of bleak millenarianism, almost as if to revel in the imminent doom spewed forth in their heretical hymns. Breaks between the tracks, often comprising of ambient droning and squealing feedback seem to almost conjure images of barren lands after colossal destruction and mass upheaval, tightly holding onto its last glimmers of nugatory hope.
Despite the flagrant savagery of the structural sensibilities of the band, the duo is not averse to the usage of basic compositional ploys such as counterpoint, as can be seen in songs like ‘Sleeping Throats of the Antichrist’ where explosive leads driven by chaotic whammy-bar abuse wreak havoc alongside rapid chord progressions, invoking a sense of strangely enjoyable turbulence, with an erratic reverberance that is befitting of the implicit apocalypticism of the music. There are scant segments that are downright catchy, as can be seen in the infectious build up to ‘Cadaver Synod’, but the majority of the length of tracks are wholeheartedly oppressive and impudently monochromatic in a sense, suffocating one with its morass-like atmosphere. Far from devoid of compositional movement; sporadic, almost doom-laden mid-paced trudging is seen across all tracks at varying intensity and tempo (and specifically in the “break track” ‘Unearthed Veins’ with an addition layer of inversive and atonal leads). NSK’s vocals, the vehicle of these ungodly visceral apostasies, are perhaps the most belligerent it has ever sounded – hoarse and caustic while compromising enunciation for its thunderous delivery. The addition of the legendary Chris Reifert (Autopsy, Abscess, Death, The Ravenous, etc.) and his signature gravelly delivery on perhaps the most structurally ambitious track of the album, ‘Burning in Damnation Fires’ culminates into a cacophonic maelstrom of catastrophic proportions. Lacking in the elaborate ritualistic interludes of ‘Seven Chalices’, the album instead chooses to have a single track towards the very end, appropriately titled ‘Silence of the Great Martyrs’.
‘Death’ is a logical bridge between the spaced out asphyxiation of ‘Seven Chalices’ and the even more cryptic ‘Woven Black Arteries’ EP, but in comparison to the band’s past catalogue is exacerbatingly megalomaniacal in its eschatological proclamations, pounding rhythmic sensibilities and piercing assault. An evidently polarizing release, one camp with its superficial outlook will denounce ‘Death’ as a substance-less, crude and pretentious black/death metal (or better yet, war metal) release; while the other will celebrate this nihilistic yet grandiose monolith; a logical continuation of the extreme art of yore, adding to its primitivistic disposition an aesthetic aided by modernity, with a unique artistic vision to its name. Few bands succeed in achieving a rounded aesthetic presentation but ‘Death’ truly is an abyssal experience of epic proportions in every sense of the word. Mortui vivos docent. Only death is real.
RATING : 5/5
A majestic monument, a banner of triumph for the ages, like a berserk barbarian overpowering a mighty horde single-handed with time for wenches and wine on the side.