DysangeliumDysanglium exploded onto my radar earlier this year with the release of their punishing ‘Leviaxxis’ demo which was distributed by World Terror Committee. The young Germans delivered three tracks of punishing blasphemic spite that demonstrated a knack for concise composition topped off with some truly demented vocals. A full-length was much anticipated at the time, however I wasn’t prepared for it to land quite so quickly – yet here we are, barely six months later with a full-length recording bristling with sinewy riffs, clattering blasts and occult atmospheres for us to digest.

The band’s approach is one that seems rooted in the more obscure and cavernous end of the orthodox Swedish black metal movement – think Ondskapt, Mortuus or Ofermod as opposed to the more cartoonish blasphemy of Dark Funeral – with sinister, slithering guitar lines playing out over a satisfyingly organic drum assault. ‘Thanatos Askesis’ is a dark album, the imagery replete with the tropes of the orthodox style with the production being spacious and laced in copious quantities of reverb. As with the demo, the vocals of Sektarist 0 are a real stand-out – a huge, desperate-sounding bellow whose exhortations to the dark side are clearly and forcefully enunciated.

Dysangelium’s knack for whipping up a discordant, galloping racket is still intact – ‘Obelisk of the Sevencrowned Son’ was a highlight from the demo and is retained here, the string-mangling intensity of the verses delivering plenty of venom. ‘Gateways to Necromancy’ blends violence and ghostly atmospherics wonderfully well whilst the scything riffs of ‘Ave Obscuritas Incarna’ are suitably invigorating. Each song manages to pack in one or two real hooks that would doubtless go down a storm in a live setting.

The tempo drops on occasion to a more mid-paced, ghostly crawl with mixed results – closing track ‘I Am the Witness, I am the Servant’ is excellent, the frenetic start giving way to a strident and atmospheric way to finish the album but ‘Aries’ sags somewhat. It’s here that Dyangelium betray a little too obviously the sources of their inspiration with moments of this song being rather reminiscent of offcuts from Ondskapts ‘Draco Sit Mihi Dux’ album. An element of naivety is to be expected though and for a relatively new act, ‘Thanatos Askesis’ demonstrates a remarkably developed and relatively distinctive sound even at this early stage.

This is a very impressive debut – whilst 2014 has been a year of real quality and has seen some exceptional releases hit the shelves, Dysangelium’s contribution should not get lost amongst these. OK, whilst it isn’t epoch-defining or particularly original, it presents a well-honed, convincing set of orthodox black metal hymns and is well worth seeking out.

(8/10 Frank Allain)