It’s funny that the cover art to this one immediately reminded me of Impiety’s ‘Skullfucking Armageddon’, as Decapitated Christ are self-confessed fans of those Singaporean nuts. Over the course of three albums, this Spanish five-piece has (apparently) made it its purpose to be an affront to so-called modern metal, trends and poseurs. Drawing on all manner of great – mainly old – thrash/death/black metal influences, it is now time for ‘Arcane Impurity Ceremonies’ to cement this band’s own position within the underground unlight.
Intro, ‘And the Carnage Begins’, is definitely one of the better ones I’ve heard lately, with its rich, hypnotic riffs, organic drum sound and subtle background keyboard setting the stage nicely. Better still is when ‘The One Who Marches…’ blasts off like the (un)godly Angelcorpse. Admittedly it doesn’t continue in this furious vein – instead shifting into more spidery death metal realms – but if there’s a way of arousing this listener’s interest, it’s evoking the spirit of Helmkamp’s legend. Vocally, DC reminds of so many previous Spanish/South American bands with lyrics barked gutturally over morbid, thrashing riffs. Particularly great in the opener is the solo section, in which those cool riffs just continue going about their business while leads ooze satisfyingly out. ‘Human-Eating Herd of the Damned'(!) follows in more measured fashion, like descending black fog; a style that also pervades numerous subsequent tracks. On which note, ‘Hell’s Everything’, even gets me thinking of the mighty Immolation with its regular chopping and changing.
For much of the album, the band’s prowling, predatory riffing echoes a legendary band that I frustratingly can’t put a name to. In ‘When War Brings Glory (Cenotaph)’ however, there is absolutely no room for confusion. If the title doesn’t give it away then perhaps the opening/closing imitation of ‘The Killchain’ or the roar of ‘In battle there is no law!’ will. Yes, that’s right: an ode to Bolt Thrower. Instead of pursuing the artillery grind route of ‘The Killchain’, the majority of this tribute goes on a ‘…for Victory’-styled path, alternating between blasts of mourning/reverberating mechanical death metal. Slightly at odds with the rest of the material, this track certainly achieves what it set out to do. ‘Hexenhammer’ reverts to the formula of shifting, swaggering darkness that characterises DC’s own style. Aside from a slightly odd ‘Ooh!’ at one point, there are once again some adept combinations of guitar- and drum-work. In fact, the best aspect to this entire disc is the confidence-bordering-on-arrogance that permeates those riffs.
One aspect I’m actually not that keen on is the band’s frequent use of film samples – particularly that shit reworking of dialogue from (the remake of?) ‘Dawn of the Dead’. In DC’s case, the music does the talking on its own – as the indecipherably-titled closing track proves, with little variations and nuances thrown in to ensure that you are trapped within the album’s black tentacles until its end.
While overall it’s hard to say that ‘Arcane Impurity Ceremonies’ really distinguishes itself from the hosts of quality albums out there, or has enough clout to make your jaw fall to the ground, it is still a fine example of pure death metal.