Dead Congregation - _Promulgation of the Fall_
(Profound Lore Records, 2014)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Dead Congregation's _Graves of the Archangels_ was a landmark find for me when I attended Maryland Deathfest 2011. Admittedly, I was an MDF virgin at the time and completely unsure of myself amidst the intense, sweaty horde that had occupied a corner of downtown Baltimore. Hell, I showed up mostly to see Neurosis, and while there's no denying that Neurosis is badass enough to be the star of any evening, I'm not now so naïve to think about it as a Neurosis gig with eight hours of opening bands. MDF is a premier North American celebration of bitchin' mutha' fuckin' METAL, extreme music at its headiest, dirtiest, fiercest and foulest. Snagging a ticket for any reason other than immersing yourself in a morbid overload of amp-addled six string blasphemy is just silly.

I digress. Pre-MDF Dan Lake preferred his metal to lead with its pretentious arty foot and drag its grindy Neanderthal clubfoot along behind. Then I saw/heard/felt Funebrarum play, and the fucking world exploded. When people said "old-school death metal" I thought they meant unimaginative, overloud rock played at stupid-fast speeds. Who knew those trench-diggers could move a crowd with so much power, so much soul? (Okay, everybody else knew but me.) When I found and bought _Graves of the Archangels_, alongside several other examples of the style, I had a hard time deciding if the album was indeed exceptional or if I was blinded by my newfound infatuation with this old darkness.

With this year's release of _Promulgation of the Fall_, the time finally arrived to face the possibility that Dead Congregation were flash-in-the-bedpan traditionalists who towed a line that no longer held me in such thrall. I was nervous. I was excited. And after pressing play, I was absolutely owned.

_Promulgation_ doesn't rustle the stage curtains menacingly, as "Martyrdoom" did on the band's 2008 debut. Listeners are dropped immediately into the fitful fury of cliff-crumbling drum barrages, rhythm and lead guitars haunted by vengeful poltergeists, and Anastasis Valtsanis's undeniably intimidating growls. The whole of the album consists of thick, withering death metal that doesn't pretend to want anything but to land every listener in the ER. "Only Ashes Remain" ambushes with an uncompromising percussive attack that occasionally gives space to ripping solos and moody, semi-melodic leads. When the band yanks back the throttle for the title track, DC's world comes into sharp, reassuring focus. From there, the ride becomes predictably awesome: Alps-flattening, blood-black doomy death metal that flashes just enough light into the roiling abyss for you to know that you couldn't survive seeing any more.

There have been enough death metal greats released in 2014 for everyone to have their own private pet. Perhaps _Promulgation of the Fall_ will be yours.


(article published 27/11/2014)

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