Graves of the Archangels has chopped off my head and kicked me into the mouth of hell with a most sinister brand of evil, old-school death metal. Here we find proper fealty paid to the North Eastern U.S. variety of the genre that evilly gurgled forth in the early/mid 90’s. More specifically, Mortal Throne of Nazarene/Diabolical Conquest era Incantation and Here In After era Immolation, with a fine pinch of early Morpheus Descends‘ filthy rawness to further dirty up the edges. Wrap it all up in a more modern (and truly vicious) production and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what these Greek devils are bringing to the table.
Once the (overly) long intro of “Martyrdoom” eventually ends, Graves of the Archangels is all about the business of kicking the living shit out you for the remainder of its 38-minutes. While there are ample moments where some weighty Incantation-like slow-downs are offered up (“Morbid Paroxysm”, “Vanishing Faith”, “Voices” and “Source of Fire”), an equal share of the time here is spent flailing and shredding faces with quick double picking, smart pinches, and loads and loads and loads of excellent old-school riffing. Nearly every song features some outstanding riff-moment worthy of scowling towards the heavens and cursing the holy gates. The amazing “Vanishing Faith” flashes one of the more cruel riff breakouts in recent memory –– quickly slicing from one speaker to the other around 1:00 before being lifted by the rest of the gang for all-out unholy dissonance until its end.
The overall atmosphere conveyed here is absolutely perfect. Not just the “evilness” creeping throughout due to the lyrical content and sparse use of shadowy chants/prayers, but also because the record’s mix layers all the instruments equally, which is pretty refreshing. Of particular note: the glottal vocals of A.V. boom heavily enough to shake spiders from the walls, and drummer V.V.’s performance is absolutely SAVAGE from start to finish.
Dead Congregation stand as yet another young band amongst a handful of others that really know how to deliver bulldozing death metal that’s packed with tradition, yet still novel enough to not sound totally hackneyed. Graves of the Archangels is the Satanic punch to the marbles you’ve been looking for if you like it raw, dirty and unsophisticated.