Formed in 2006, Sweden’s satanic death horde Degial gained much praise for their debut album, 2012’s ‘Death’s Striking Wings’. Their reputation for quality has been further solidified with a few stints supporting Watain, as well as having one of the band’s members helping out those guys live. Exemplifying the respect felt for Degial by scene luminaries, Set Teitan (Aborym, Dissection, Unanimated) even helps out on this second album, ‘Savage Mutiny’, with guest solo and vocal contributions. Having myself shamefully missed out on that aforementioned disc, I was determined to get stuck into this one. And having done so, it’s fair to say that all the hype I’ve read about Degial up to this point is more than justified…
The epically titled ‘Doomgape’ gets us underway with a series of slow haunting guitar lines which demonstrate more than a hint of black metal. Once the music hits properly elements akin to Incantation seep in, however this is death metal of a much faster variety – frantic blasts and rapid fret abuse setting the pace. Elsewhere riffs leave the listener hanging, as the instruments attack in discordant fashion and vocals spew forth in rabid, ghostly blasts. Now I could be wide of the mark here but at times I get elements of bands like Order From Chaos in some of the repetitive riff patterns; Angelcorpse in terms of sheer aggression; and early Watain in the evil stakes. Whatever the exact sources of influence, the album is killer. Instances such as the ravaging early diversion in the title track and the foreboding start of ‘Uncoiling Chaos’, in which mental riffs and cascading drums deliver multiple scars, demonstrate Degial’s wild unpredictability. The one constant is utter chaos.
A standout track in this respect is ‘Deathsiege’ with its unstoppable rhythms and unending sense of insanity thanks to those persistent cymbal clunks and riffs which fly off on crazed explorations. Another brilliant aspect is the soloing, which emerges in finest (early) Morbid Angel style. Above all, the defining feature of Degial’s approach is that previously mentioned impossibility to read how their tracks are going to deliver you to madness. The mid-pace riff/drums-intermittently-going-off-on-one combination of ‘Pallor’ certainly typifies the unceremonious aggression pumping through the musicians’ veins. But then the same could be said of the maggot-like ‘Revenants’ which burrows its way deeper into your head as the track persists, or indeed the utterly insane and equally excellent ‘Sanguine Thirst’. Special mention must go out to Hampus Eriksson whose vocal performance right up to mental, funereal closer ‘Transgression’ remains nothing short of a frenzied masterclass.
It goes without saying that ‘Savage Mutiny’ has proved to be an album that I think is brilliant. There’s no let up from beginning to end in terms of how morbid and grizzled it is but the truly great thing about Degial’s approach is how they have managed to create something genuinely exciting and unpredictable, in stark contrast to a lot of the prescribed, generic death metal that you can find yourself confronted with. Taking the greatness of the genre’s most obscure moments, adding a twist of black metal craziness and unceremoniously blending it all together to form a new monster is precisely what they have done. Excellent stuff, and perfectly timed for the festering period.