Drawn and Quartered – Congregation Pestilence Review

Just recently, one of our fearless leaders began a glowing review for Diabolizer with a very important question:

“When was the last time a death metal album ripped your head off and kicked it directly into the mouth of Hell?”

Presumably, your head is currently flopping around the pits of Tartarus as we speak due to having taken his sage advice and hitting play on Khalkedonian Death. But even Cthulhu-adorned-hell-pit-battering-ram death metal needs friends, right? Drawn and Quartered’s eighth album, Congregation Pestilence, makes for a perfect companion piece with its marriage of steady-flowing magma and explosions of concrete-melting lava. After Diabolizer kicks your head off into the nether realms, Drawn and Quartered will be there to catch it, dip it in tar, light it on fire and pulverize that crispy noggin with a rusty flail.

Release date: July 2, 2021. Label: Krucyator Productions.
As its 38-minute runtime indicates, Congregation Pestilence is not interested in wasting time. With an absolute buzzsaw of a riff, blistering snares and a blast-furnace bellow, “Death’s Disciple” announces Drawn and Quartered’s approach to death with a fiery conviction. Pretty much immediately we get a glimpse of Kelly Kuciemba’s wise approach to guitar. Throughout the album, he unleashes blistering leads on melting ears, but he also plays certain portions in the same tone as the lead guitar while it follows along with the main riff or provides extra texture to the song without taking the spotlight. At the 50-second mark of the album opener, there are some higher-pitched tremolo runs layered over a hefty riff and then at 1:20 Kuciemba does his best Gladiator impression by unleashing hell on the fretboard. Even if you are not familiar with Drawn and Quartered, you may not be a total stranger to Kuciemba’s exhilarating lead work if you listened to Draghkar’s delightful 2020 sophomore album At the Crossroads of Infinity.

Promptly following that is “Age of Ignorance,” which wraps everything the band does best into one destructive package. It opens with 15 seconds of purely chaotic lead work followed by a steel-hardened, tremolo-flecked riff passage and then another 15 seconds of finger-flaying insanity. The song proceeds to bounce between a pseudo-clean plucked passage being punctured by guitar squeals and yet another lead that is given more room to flow and transform. When it’s all said and done, this skull splitter spends 1/3 of its runtime dishing out leads.

While the remainder of the album doesn’t adhere to that ratio, every single one of them boasts passages that will melt the necks of instruments and pop nails off of digits. They also all have something to offer beyond the Azagthoth lava love. “Oblivion Pilgrimage” and “Rotting Abomination (The Cleansing)” both boast some spine-snapping Incammolation riffs that blend the angular squeal of Immolation with a touch of molasses-dripping rumble from Incantation. “Proliferation of Disease” unloads a riff that’s so fast it sounds like it’s in the process of falling apart as it’s being played while each rare moment of open space is filled with off-kilter colorful drumming by Tormentor. “Dispensation (Rise of the Antichrist)” opens with a hideous churning grinder of a riff backed by relentless kicks. “Six Devils (Trepanation)” is more of a mid-tempo beast that lets you get hooked on a bounce that will still see you chainsawed in half by the time it’s over. And the closing title track lets the guitars slow down and wail for a while to end on a more dramatic note.

While that wailing and downshift in tempo does provide for a more dramatic finish, it does feel a bit lackluster compared to the fiery assault provided throughout the rest of the album. It would have been more satisfying to get one more Pompeii explosion of fire and ash like “Age of Ignorance” to leave the listener with a neck sprain rather than just the ugly face we all make when we hear something cool. The vocals are also a bit one-dimensional, but not so much so as to be a detriment. They just aren’t necessarily a big boon to the album either. Both of these points are mere quibbling in the face of the glorious gate to Satan’s playground that Drawn and Quartered have opened with Congregation Pestilence.

Strip down to your favorite leather apron, split a sacrificial lamb in twain and let Drawn and Quartered be the soundtrack to your next bout of demon-induced mania!

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

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