Dark Descent Records
May 1st, 2011
Release length: 23:15
The Dagger & The Chalice actually makes for a very surprising EP. The quality of the release is a little rough, though still retains much of the modern production qualities and cleaner sound of today we’ve come to expect. The bass here is pretty strong and aids that slightly raw edge in sounding both bludgeoning, as well as dark and hopeless. The guitars on the release sound pretty standard, though played at a lower, heavier tone, which sounds fantastic in the music, especially among the very rare slower moments such as during “Altar of Worms”. While the bass presence here really aids the atmosphere, it’s clear they are mostly here to back up these somewhat deeper guitars, and that’s just fine given the final product and how well the two manage to mesh together to create such a bleak sound. The drumming also feeds into the rawer quality through strong bass kicks that have more of a louder click to them, and thick sounding snares with crashing cymbols at the proper pitch that they don’t feel like part of the background of the sound, but don’t take away from the bludgeoning madness of the guitars and the deep, sinister guttural vocals that have a nice echo effect and are loud enough to be heard without taking anything away from the other instruments, and vice versa.
The album start off with the “Intro” track, which establishes the dark and crushing atmosphere well through some guitar distortion of what sounds like somsone running their pic down the neck of the guitar for an extended amount of time before some slow paced crushing chords kick in and some random screams and guttural roars cement the burdening atmospherical state of the album. The track bleeds into the next song, “Crypt Infester”, and it’s basically just a thicker continuation of the “Intro” with the drums kicking in and more guttural growls before the track kicks into it’s slow bludgeoning pace going back and forth with faster, intense bridges throughout. The overall crushing sensation of these songs and the slower passages really become the main allure to the release, coming through more with a Doom Metal push then anything. This doesn’t discount the faster parts in any sense, and some of those speedier tracks really make for a stronger experience, especially when mixed together well. While “Crypt Infester” does a good job at this, and it does it’s pulverizing job well, but “Nameless Cult” really creates a dark and far more sinister sense of hopelessness this time around. The song focuses more on the faster material here, and when that slow pace comes in, it takes on a slightly epic vibe through some background choir-like sounds or vocals that appear and give a haunting sensation to the trudging pace that leaves you crawling after the brutalizing intensity of the quicker assault that came before, as well as closes out the track.
That previous paragraph just about sums up the remainder of the album. Nothing really changes about how the band presents themselves and their music, though the group does offer up enough unique material in each track that each song does sound different enough from one another. The only thing about this album that comes as more of a repeating constant would be the vocals. While the deep, crushing gutturals here are fantastic, a good majority of the time the performance is about the same, actually being short lyrics that find a slow, creeping pace to their performance and holding onto words for a little longer to add more of a growl to them. This does cause many of them to sound more inhuman then anything, but it just happens all the time on the EP. “Massgrave” throws some higher pitch wails into the mix, but they are very few and far between, though they do add a little extra after coming off three songs with the same vocal performance that often doesn’t match the blistering intensity of the faster material despite whether or not the vocalist is holding onto the end of the words for a few seconds. This track also brings in what seems like some really crushing breakdowns for a more Slam Death Metal approach, and it’s nice in the same sense as the rhaspier vocal additions, but it does add a little more to the music then the vocal additions end up doing, working well with the overall dismal atmosphere of the recording.
While the album really has this overall bludgeoning and dismal atmosphere to it, it does tend to wear a bit on the listener after a few spins. The music here is great and crushing with enough variety to make each track sound rather unique from the next, though could still have a little more to each track to better set them apart, but the main issue here lies in the vocal performance and how similar it is to every song on here. The addition of the higher rhasps during “Massgrave” does break things up in the end, but those are rarely used during the song. Of course it’s good the band doesn’t abuse this approach and have them on every single song, but it’s that little bit of variety to the performance that really makes it stand out more instead of just feeling like he’s standing there reading the lyrics slowly from a sheet of paper or something like that. The Dagger & The Chalice ends up being a strong EP, and a good debut at that, but with the hindering vocals, the release doesn’t quite shine as brightly as it could amid the flurry of Death Metal releases, but in the end is still worth checking out if you’re a fan of the style and really heavy, soul crushing music.
01. Intro – 3:08
02. Crypt Infester – 4:28
03. Nameless Cult – 2:37
04. Altar of Worms – 4:45
05. Massgrave – 5:15
06. The Dagger and the Chalice – 3:04
|Overall Score: 7/10