While not always an obvious connection, there tends to be a lot of commonality between the types of listeners that are drawn to power electronics and death industrial and those that are heavily into war metal and the filthiest black/death combinations around. Having been to Nuclear War Now! Fest as well as much smaller shows with the likes of Survival Unit and Trepaneringsritualen over the years the audiences have often overlapped, so it makes sense that a band like Poland’s DeathEpoch would seek to merge the two styles into a noisy, unsettling mixture on their debut album Abysmal Invocation. Spread across ten tracks that run for close to fifty minutes, the duo spends just as much time letting harsher electronics and oppressive, thick atmosphere spread as they do blasting away with warlike instrumentation. It’s a mixture that takes some time to fully sink in and does prove a bit exhausting at certain points, but the little details and sheer abrasiveness make this material worth the exploration.
Right from the beginning it’s evident that you’re in for something a little outside of the norm with Abysmal Incantation, as rather than being greeted with the usual ominous sounding intro or all-out blitzkrieg of distortion and blast beats DeathEpochinstead chooses to open with ritualistic industrial beats that reverberate over the recording with a noisier edge. From there you’re greeted with the same type of slide picking and abrasive blasting that has defined war metal in recent years, with dense and bottom-heavy riffs that are reminiscent of Revenge and Blasphemy with a bit of Archgoat for good measure. Within these first two songs the group gives you a good idea of both sides of their musical approach, but it isn’t until the next track that they start to weave everything together. From this point on it’s not uncommon for the writing to start off with a driving industrial beat or the type of ear rattling noise that power electronics is known for, only to then move right into an all-out wall of black/death metal that sets everything ablaze. Admittedly the first couple of tracks didn’t quite grab me initially, but it’s the later ones where these two worlds are seamlessly merged that this nightmarish soundscape starts to get stuck in your head. From the tense and eerie electronic soundscapes that drive the nine-minute “Abysmal Invocation II” to the almost noisy dance floor beats that lead into “Genocide V” and the cover of Sodom’s “Bombenhagel”, these sudden shifts make DeathEpoch far more intriguing than your standard Archgoat or Blasphemy clone and provide some real substance. It’s an exhausting listen at some points and not every moment hits the mark, but it’s clear these two have a real vision for something different and I’ve found myself coming back to this one regularly over the past week, especially to the second half of the album.
With the overall noisiness of the production it makes sense that the vocals would strive to be as distorted and dense as possible. Lord K. pulls this off with ease throughout Abysmal Invocation, hitting extremely low and guttural ranges that morph into some truly inhuman sounding and tower above the rest of the recording in a way that feels like a commander sending troops off to battle. It’s this type of performance that can set black/death metal bands apart, and DeathEpoch showcases they have the intensity needed to pull this off. In addition to Lord K.’s distorted growls the band was also able to bring in some well-known guests on a few tracks, with Mark of the Devil (Cultes des Ghoules), Vincent Crowley (Infidel Reich, ex-Acheron), and Kris Stanley (Sinistrous Diabolus) delivering standout performances that inject some very different vocal ranges into the material.
Black/death metal has always had some overlap with power electronics and industrial, but it’s often been limited to guest appearances on specific tracks or for intros/outros. DeathEpoch merges the two together in a way that captures the nightmarish and desolate sounds perfectly, and while there still is room to further blur the lines this is a hell of a way to start. You’ll need a few times through to get a true feeling for what this duo is striving for, but I suspect for the right type of listener this album will get under their skin and hopefully it’s just the beginning of what this project is planning. Abysmal Invocationis available from Putrid Cult.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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