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Review: Dead Congregation - Graves of the Archangels
Dead Congregation
Graves of the Archangels

Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Year released: 2008
Duration: 43:35
Tracks: 9
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: February 15, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers Rating
Graves of the Archangels

Rated 4/5 (80%) (38 Votes)

Death Metal is probably the hardest metal sub-genre to innovate in as its style and boundaries are pretty much set in stone. One way you can make yourself stand out is to do what Dead Congregation have done and take the best elements of the 90's USDM scene and mix in some Black Metal and create an genuine slab of blackened, hateful Death Metal that makes modern brutal Death Metal look like it was invented by Porky Pig.

Graves of the Archangels kicks off with a lengthy instrumental that is all guitars, bass and drums rather than airy ambiance or orchestral extravagance — it's the perfect opener and I'm surprised more bands don't do this sort of thing. Now, while it's obviously not as epic as the Imperial March, it conveys much the same message: the broken drums and tritone guitars are heralding the entrance of something terrible, saying "are you ready to die? Because there is a pretty fucking good chance you're going to die here." Then the crushing guitars and furious blasting of "Hostis Humani Generis" ravage you like the shockwave from a nuclear blast, force choking and lightning blasting everything in sight like a mushroom-crazed Vader, only with its powers derived from the depths of Hell rather than the Force. What follows is a series of hymns to Satan that come off as the bastard child of Suffocation and Angelcorpse or Immolation, a style of Blackened Death Metal that hearkens back to days of metal yore when Lucifer reigned supreme.

The disjointed intro of "Vanishing Faith" channels early Suffocation before yielding to a much more straightforward Morbid Angel riff fest over assaulting blast beats. Tremelo riffs abound throughout Graves of the Archangels adding that blackened feel to the music, and are often mixed seamlessly with brutal NYDM breakdowns and Floridian riffage of crushing tone courtesy of a production that immerses the listener in an atmosphere of dense evil, a miasmal fog through which the killers of those nominal Archangels might step and drag you screaming into hell. Dead Congregation know that it is possible to deliver a crushing, heavy sound while being covered in dirt and frothing from the mouth, and that's pretty much what you get here, a vision where the production supports the atmosphere and the intent of the music and the album becomes much better for it. Atmospheric sections like the choir chanting over a distorted bass and guitar feedback of the diabolic title track help capitalize on this production as they merge into an anthem to evil that ravages you with its mid-paced onslaught. The album continues in this manner for its 40 odd minute length, dropping awesome riff after awesome riff with great variation in pace and dynamic, keeping you engaged and making you throw your head around the room in an orgy of head banging. The vocals of A.V. sound a lot like Bill Steer from Necroticism-era Carcass, deep and guttural with little variation, but do occasionally grunt down to an even lower pitch like a great old one. They can become a little monotonous at times, but they are used to great effect, and there is plenty of breathing room as each track is carried by a glut of music that spreads them out.

With Graves of the Archangels, Dead Congregation (awesome band name by the way) has delivered a slab of face-smashing brutality that draws its power directly from the dark lord himself. I can't imagine any fan of Death Metal not loving this album and its unrelenting fury, so, simply put, you must own this album. Go and buy it now.

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