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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Double "Doom Cult" reviews: Witchrist and Diocletian

Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor (Osmose Productions)

Unlike previous ‘Doom Cult’ releases, ‘The Grand Tormentor’, which is the first Witchrist release on Osmose Productions, has an instantaneous appeal. I found myself nodding my head to it from the first listen on my car stereo. In the past I’ve found them (recordings from the Doom Cult) to be slow growers. Where the previous Witchrist album ‘Beheaded Ouroboros’ was more a barrage of unrelenting war chaos, ‘The Grand Tormentor’ is like of a dirty ‘Immolation’, an ‘Incantation’ that’s been living rough for a few weeks without Clean clothes or a shower, or maybe even a ‘Disma’ that’s staggered out of the Megalith covered in coal dust and the rolled in a rotting goat carcass and then in dust before showing up at home and been told piss off outside until it’s squirted down with a high powered hose.

From start to finish the album flows nicely. The opening tune ''Into the Arms of Yama' is a nine minute building doom epic which eventually (around minute 6) breaks into death metal aggression. This simplistic yet brutal Neanderthal assault continues in song number 2, the  title tune, and again in ‘Meditation for Sacrifice’ which then progresses down into doom dirge. This is followed by ‘Wasteland of Thataka’ which at 1:36 is the shortest blast of hatred on the release. That hatred is blasted again in an extended barrage on 'Exile'. ‘The Tomb’ opens with a taste of ‘Autopsy’ and early ‘Pungent Stench’ styled slow dirge riffs with hammer on hammer off tails which progresses into an intense up-tempo rhythm that continues into ‘Tandava’, then to the catchy fist pumper that is ‘Cast into Fire’. Album closer ‘Funeral Lotus’ wraps things up in much the same way it started with an epic nine minute doom number.

Special comment must be given to the drum sound. Rather than the modern death metal triggered drum sound which to my ears sounds like a cross between a Geiger counter and someone farting loudly on a plastic chair, you can actually feel the low rumble of the kick drums more than you can hear them (although you can still clearly hear them), Which in my view is how they are supposed to be. Additionally the vocals sit in the music as more of an accompanying instrumental texture rather than dominating growls, this compliments the album nicely.

This sits up with “Kill this Fucking World” by Skuldom and “Opus One” by Sinistrous Diabolus as a kvlt classic NZ underground metal release. If you don’t have it yet get it now you Kvnts!

Diocletian - Annihilation Rituals (Osmose Productions)
‘Annihilation Rituals’, The first Diocletian release on Osmose productions, is a compilation album featuring the almost* complete chronological discography of every release prior to the ‘Doom Cult’ album. This includes ‘Demo I’, the ‘Decimator’ mini album, the ‘Chaos Rising’ side of the split LP with ‘Denouncement Pyre’ and the ‘Sect of Swords’ 7” ep. I have most of these releases already, but it really is good and enlightening to be able to listen to all of this in one sitting. It’s also timely as it captures every release featuring the vocals and lead guitar of Logan Muir up until he departed from the band the first time around and sets the scene for his recent returned on bass and lead vocals.
Although this isn’t new music I’d have to say that it’s my favourite Diocletian release, as there are some really powerful and varied songs featured. Particularly on the opening tracks from the first demo, the only thing I previously didn’t own by the band, which shows why Diocletian were hot property in the underground Metal scene when it came out in 2005. I’d go as far as saying that although some of the official studio recordings of the demo tracks featured later on ‘Annihilation Rituals’ are strong, that these early versions stand out as being superior in their raw chaotic forms. In saying that though, I do have a soft spot for the extended Outro on the “Chaos Rising” Version of “Doom Cult”. In a chat conversation I had with Atrociter/B. Southwell (Guitar) some time ago he mentioned that among other things they were looking back at ‘Demo I’ as a guide for the direction they wanted future material to be like. I wonder what this will mean? 

Next to the demo tracks, two other titles stand out for me. These are “Master/Enslaver” from Decimator and “Gesundrian” from the Denouncement Pyre split. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being that unlike other Diocletian material they are based around effective, simplistic, intense tension building melodies (If “melody” is the right word to use) and the second being that this is a musical concept that they don’t seem to have revisited in later material. I do note that both tunes get a second rendition on the upcoming/imminent Weregoat split which will be interesting to check out. 

As with ‘Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor’ , the mastering on ‘Annihilation Rituals’ by Cam S (Skin pounder for both Diocletian and Witchrist) brings a consistency and brings the best out of everything.
Also a special note must also be made of the excellent job Logan Muir has done as graphic artist on the layout of this release, as he also did for the recent vinyl releases of the ‘War Of All Against All’ album. 

This is an essential release for anyone yet to check out Diocletian, is wanting to plug gaps in their collection, or who just wants to listen to it’s entire content without having to get up and change records every few minutes. Get now Kvnts!

*The cover of “All that Remains” Bolt Thrower from “Decimator” is not included here.

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