Crude, gurgling beasts with weeping eyes struggling to pull free from slimy alien webbing. Dark, freezing oceans packed with stormy waves crashing on mountainous shores that hang heavy with centuries of moss. Inverted priests gazing through rotted eyes and slinking from tomb to tomb in long-abandoned cemeteries. These are the sorts of images I prefer death metal to conjure, and thanks to the contaminated mind of Axel Hermann, those sorts of visuals are directly at arm’s reach for each and every fan of death metal.
Who the hell is Axel Hermann? Why, he’s responsible for puking up album cover artwork for death metal goliaths such as Morgoth, Unleashed, Asphyx and Grave, and he’s also responsible for putting his putrid touch on Deathevokation‘s debut full-length, The Chalice of Ages. Fittingly, this record is bleeding with old-school death metal charm, particularly of the early 90s European style, and Hermann’s depiction of a crimson misshapen human peeking from the maw of an even ghastlier beast not only fits this music, it springs to miserable life as these ancient sounding tunes waft doomily from the speakers.
Alongside wallopers recently dropped by Necros Christos and Helcaraxë, The Chalice of Ages completes the trifecta of stunning 2007 debut full-lengths in the field of NEW old-school death metal. Deathevokation’s particular brand invokes many of the aforementioned Hermann bands, with an additional heaping dose of The Karelian Isthmus era of Amorphis that loved to sneak loads of melody into the corners. As such, expect the bulk of the record to plug forward at a mammoth, death doomy clip, but be prepared to grab hold of something when it occasionally breaks into a speedier clip when there’s serious trampling to be done. Toward the close of the excellent title track, for example, and the whole of “Infinity Blights the Flesh.”
That isn’t to say that Deathevokation carbon copy albums that have already been done, however. These guys simply understand precisely what made the Euro death metal scene from the early 90s so enjoyable, and they incorporate those elements into their own scheme to ensure a certain freshness. The smart insistence on melodic guitar work and sporadic leads is particularly gratifying, and you won’t hear a better one-two punch this year than “Embers of a Dying World” and the title track at the record’s midpoint. Both tunes rumble like flattening tanks, and guitarist/vocalist Götz Vogelsang flaunts one of the most glottal and gruesome howls this side of Mt. Guttural. The way he slowly rasps “As your troops gather for the final battle, the sun sets for the very last time” and then eventually gets lifted by the sweet lead around 4:00 – pure fucking gold.
“Alte Schule” death metal für alte Schuleleute. The choice is simple: either grab a fistful of mammoth fur and enjoy the ride, or give Deathevokation one Hell of a wide berth as they rumble through on their way into the final crusade. If you like it old, bold and prone to explode, get The Chalice of Ages in your grip.