Can I say this is the debut by Damim to make it sound like I’m here, in at the beginning? Nah, ’tis their third after a slight name shift from Dam (I assume for reasons of clashes, lineup rejig or something label related). New label too, the always interesting Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Ace cover too.
Have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, having really only heard the buzz from people reporting on live shows. Clearly a band thoroughly approved of by fellow musos too. I’d heard vague descriptions struggling to span sub-genres like ‘blackened death thrash’ or some vague mix of that. A couple of more straight forward ‘death metal’ tags. But nowhere did I hear ‘technical death’. They’ll probably disagree but as the excellent rumble of ‘In A Language They Understand’ revs and track spins out the gate, that’s what I get. Oh it’s furious, and chunky, and with the varied vocals including clean bursts which bring a little Akercocke to the proceedings, but there is that tech edge for me. It’s a great start; full of attack and precision and that riff is just brilliant frankly. ‘Descendant Of Amalek’ follows up in similar vein but despite a great bass line which the production brings out, it lack the immediate riff.
Hmm. Right. ‘Beyond The Call Of Emptiness’ begins again with a strain of Akercocke (vocalist and guitarist Nathaniel Underwood has of course played with them) before pressing on into choppy fast riffing and rapid discordant chords. It’s superb musicianship and dark, modern death but it pushes me away I’m afraid.
‘The wonderfully titled ‘Something For The Weakened’ has a much more fluid, progressive feeling; it dips and wallows in a low, deep melody, clean vocals and a sinuous, writhing feel before rearing up into the harder death riffing. There is something chaotic about this track lacking in some of the others and, just for me, this raises it. Maybe I just like the unexpected, the feel of a beast barely constrained rather than a finely engineered machine? Maybe.
‘NecroKino’ is…well, a quietly disturbing keyboard passage that could come from some Cryo Chamber album before being shattered by a grim riff that is just excellent. Instrumental, compelling and atmospheric.
‘Body Is Broken’ is perhaps an exemplar of my torn thoughts though. At times raging, howling beast, at others chop, chop, precise guillotine. ‘Rising Of The Lights’ is similar but kind of loses me in the technical riffing.
A track entitled ‘Existential Epiphany Within A Waking Dream’ has to be an instrumental, right? And it is. A delicate piece of mostly layered acoustic guitar with whispered voices. Like ‘NecroKino’ it is beautifully placed to add shade to the album and is so much more than an interlude before closer ‘All I Want To Know Is How It Ends’.
What you have here is a pretty darned magnificent band, full of ideas and class and the musical chops to back them up and see them through. Performance wise they are faultless, and there is a twisted, intelligent focus to the album. A nihilism rages inside perhaps but the frustration and reason is laid out before you. Sometimes the songs get way too technical for me, but that won’t even begin to bother most death metal fans and nor should it.
I’m going to be stingy with the score but anyone who doesn’t share my reservations for the balance of technical and animalistic herein should probably add a whole extra point.
If there’s one album anyone of an extreme metal bent should at least listen to this year it is A Fine Game Of Nil.