As indicated in my review of DEAD CONGREGATION's "Purifying Consecrated Ground", the Greek act's obsidian death metal hymns, which clearly owe a debt to INCANTATION and early IMMOLATION, piqued my curiosity about the full-length, "Graves of the Archangels". Having recently received that very full-length for review my curiosity has not only been satisfied, but I've also heard a marked improvement over the already solid sound of the EP. The album is in fact in league with the some of the finer moments from the likes of DRAWN AND QUARTERED and INCANTATION.
To brazenly steal a phrase from CARCASS, "Graves of the Archangels" is truly a symphony of sickness. It is one of those albums that is demonstrative of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Instrumental opener "Martyrdom", with its religious chant-speak samples (to close the track) and soot-choked concerto of dissonance that comes off like the sonic equivalent to a plague of locusts, sets the mood. It also ties directly to album-closer "Teeth into Red", a nine-minute opus of churn 'n burn that closes with more religious utterances and ultimately a lonely church bell before the serenity is shattered when the final metallic bombs are set off to signal the close of the black mass (those eerie voices of the pious reappear in the title track as well). And in between? The sparingly used, yet bone-chilling bellows of guitarist A.V. whose voice serves a role that is neither out front nor subservient to the filthy-riffs and swirling, doom-tinged licks; they are simply one ingredient in this boiling cauldron of death metal. Furthermore, the guitar interplay of A.V. and T.K. is a big part of what makes "Graves of the Archangels" such a cool listen.
It takes more than the combination of low rumble, filthy riffs, and a lot of pinch-harmonic squawks (though these characteristics are omnipresent) to make a quality old school and doom-laden death metal album. The melody-less compositions must produce a feeling so dreadful, yet so captivating, that you are unable to summon up the will to shut it off. That is exactly the kind of impact that "Graves of the Archangels" has on the listener. Nominate this one along with NECROVATION's "Breed Deadness Blood" for the "most iniquitous" and "most likely to leave a smoke trail" awards.