Dysangelium have hacked themselves quite a reputation despite only having one long player – Thánatos Áskçsis if you need reminding – and a couple of demos before that. Perhaps proving that its worth bottling yourself up and waiting for the creative rush to burst forth, the five years since then seem to have done the band’s crackling reserves of energy no harm whatsoever. Still signed to that house of insanity World Terror Committee, Dysangelium’s writhing dissonance and venom spitting form of black metal could so much more easily have popped out of the French scene than their native Germany (bassist Cruor also plays in Endstille). This is classic occult black metal but with very little of the meandering lack of self editing that sometimes tarnishes such things. Quite the opposite. Death Leading is a blast that would sit nicely in any collection besides bands like VI, Merrimack and The Order of Apollyon (all, obviously, with links around the same Parisian black metal scene).
Whereas the first (and last) album has a more triumphant tone emanating from those soaring black metal riffs that nestled it nicely among other occult pretenders, Death Leading feels much more turbulent and chaotic, as if the band’s five years of simmering, and honing their live skills, has left them corrupted. After a thundering, epic (but probably rather unnecessary) orchestral intro, we instantly drop into an entirely different gear as the unsettling swell of first track Feted kicks in with its juddering bass line and Sektarist 0’s hoarsely hollered vocals tearing strips of flesh from your bones as we descend through the planes. Even after the first few bars you can tell this is a band that’s moved on significantly. Dissonant this may be but with a steel grip that never allows your attention to slide along those lurching melodies. Snapping snares punctuate the surging noise, all adding to the unfolding madness. Nods to the likes of Watain, Ascension and Blaze of Perdition abound. But it’s the driving nature of the band revitalised blackened sound seething attitude that sets this modern Dysangelium apart as much as the bombastic song structures and throbbing incantations that bounce out of The Great Work and Through Henbane Nebula (no, I have no idea either, but let’s just go with it).
When we reach penultimate track Venus Inverse, your either going to have been battered into mental submission and reaching for your copy of Piece of Mind for some light relief of fully immersed in the occult procession now unfolding. The vocals aren’t so much delivered as bawled with a revolutionary air. The pace is unforgiving. There’s subtlety in the winding corkscrew arrangements but if you were hoping for some extended Watain-style set piece theatrics from the final track, you would be sadly mistaken and failing to read the runes Dysangelium have laid before you. The album finale is more like a berserker rage that tenses, sinews bursting and teeth grinning and bared, with one final blackened adrenaline rush. Death Leading offers a glimpse behind the veil, a mighty and menacing slab of black metal delivered with an angry scream and well wrought tension that might just shake you violently wake you from your life-long mortal slumber.
(8/10 Reverend Darkstanley)