Monday, September 24, 2012

Diabolical Sacrilege - To Dominate Their Psyche

Diabolical Sacrilege are a Minnesota-based death metal band. Though they've been around for a few years, this February saw the release of their first full-length, To Dominate Their Psyche, on the very small Antitheist Disseminations label. This was my first encounter with the band, whom I chanced upon while looking for metal albums that used Zdzisław Beksiński paintings for their covers.

At first, I really didn't care for this. The choppy, discordant guitar felt directionless and off-putting, the drumming was too low in the mix, the band had dropped even the pretense of employing a bassist, and I was less than thrilled with the vocals. To put it bluntly, I thought to myself "this is crap".

As I listened and got more of a feel for what the band was trying to do, though, I quickly found this growing on me. Sure the guitars were strange and unpleasant at times, but they were also played with a frantic energy and reckless abandon that really brought them to life. Sure they had no bassist, but how many death metal bands make much use of bass anyway? And sure, their vocalist sounded a bit too much like Nathan Explosion in some places, but he also sounded surprisingly similar to Karl Sanders in others. Also, the drumming really wasn't as quiet as it seemed at first, so I'm still trying to figure out the source of that initial reaction.

The band throws in some breakdowns that occasionally border on moshy, but they still sound like they belong in death metal rather than metalcore so they work just fine. Some wild guitar soloing crops up from time to time, the band shifts speeds and riffing approaches often enough to keep things interesting, and the balance of clarity and grit in the production is just right for this type of record.

Most importantly, I didn't get the immediate feeling that "clearly they're trying to sound like ______" upon listening to this album. The closest statement to that which I would make might be saying that they sound kind of like Nile with all the Egyptian stuff pulled out, but even that isn't a totally accurate claim. It's a nice trait, since so many new death metal releases just make you want to turn them off and pop in Like An Ever Flowing Stream or Left Hand Path or Effigy of the Forgotten or whatever other classic slab of brutality they're blatantly ripping off. This didn't make me feel that way. Of course some parts sounded awfully familiar, but that's pretty much unavoidable at this point in time. The important thing is that on the whole, the record wasn't built as a clone of some superior predecessor. It wasn't the greatest death metal I've ever heard, but at least it was worth listening to on its own merits.

Grade: B
Enjoyable death metal with some flaws, but with its own identity. I'm interested to see how the band builds on this in future releases.

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