Church of the Dead

Anmeldt av Eddie Rattlehead
(Black-Roos Entertainment, 2020)

Karakter: 5/6

ChurchOfTheDead.jpgHas everything been sung and played in old school Scandinavian death metal? Must we hear nothing but countless Dismember, Entombed, Grave or Unleashed hybrids with various degrees of melodiscism (on a scale of 0-6)? Is it okay to expect innovation from a subgenre of death metal which is devouring it's own tail? This Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finnish quartet, Church Of The Dead, who had been around for 8 years releasing EP after EP (5 in total) has definitely positive answers to questions 1 and 3, while replying to 2 in the explosive firm negative while delivering a surprisingly progressive work heavily rooted in classic thrash metal on their debut eponymous album.

Right from the opening instrumental aptly named "The Opening: Rising From The Beyond", Church Of The Dead, featuring Jussi Salminen (vocals), Kride Lahti (guitars), Antti Poutanen (bass), and Tomi Makkonen-Viheriälehto (drums), reveal their chief influence: Slayer. The track is very melodic and has that classic thrash metal sound to it, so it is almost disappointing when it morphs into the first song proper, "Hounds Of Men" where the Finns appear to me as one of those aforementioned standard fare Scandinavian old school death metallers, only to pulverize with an original and masterful blending of black metal convention, where the constant and smart changes of pace and mood make it an enjoyable experience. The punkish Hypocrisy riding on Mastodon "Coffincraft" and, again, blackened old school death "Rat King: Bringer Of Plague" are even better, but the Obituary-ish "The Reckoning" is more stripped down and doesn't quite grab me as much. Both "Something Came Out Of The Woods" and "Necrovulture" are excellent, though, the former smartly mixing in doom a'la Swallow The Sun in all the right places and the latter, again, Obituary-ish but overwhelmingly Slayer-ic, like Slayer hasn't done since 1994. It's, therefore, no surprise, that the perfect closer, aptly and likely purposely named "Abyss" is a near-tribute to "Seasons In The Abyss" (the song) in the opening and closing sequence but, otherwise, fiercely and unashamedly Scandinavian old school death metal, possibly ever so slightly "Code Red" Napalm Death-ly, and, my, does that closing pulverise everything Slayer has done post-"Divine Intervention"!

It bears repeating, unashamedly Scandinavian old school death metal, Church Of The Dead's eponymous is one of the best and most effective debuts in recent memory. These guys better be huge soon or there is no justice on the metal market. Meanwhile, definitely spin "Abyss" on your headphones, in your car and everywhere where great heavy metal music is appreciated.


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