Originally forged as an unholy alliance between ex-members of Australian underground extreme metal legends Bestial Warlust and Abominator in 2006, Melbourne based death metal crew Cemetery Urn began as a writhing, brutal beast driven by savage bouts of drinking and ill-intentioned barbarism. Now in their Mark III alignment featuring a new vocalist and live bassist (S. Geoffry), ‘Barbaric Retribution’ makes sense as an immediate follow up to their blistering self-titled return in 2017 as new blood coughs up fresh ideas and awakens olden ferality. The razor whipped tilt of this fourth Cemetery Urn full-length finds the band at a new, most determined peak intensity and reeks of inspiration far eclipsing the mindless iteration of modern death metal acts.
Fire up any Cemetery Urn release and you’ll immediately be greeted by A. Gillon (Abominator, Bestial Warlust) and his unrepentant guitar tone and tempestuous riff attack that grinds between with John McEntee‘s doomed tones, the rapacious suffocation of Abhorrence (Finland), and the brutal clip of Abramelin‘s heaviest. Without taking a second of thunder from the under-appreciated ‘Cemetery Urn’ (2017) album the initial rush of ‘Barbaric Retribution’ does hearken back to ‘Urn of Blood’ (2007) and ‘The Conquered are Burned’ (2010) and that frist era lead by the vocals of Damon Bloodstorm (Bestial Warlust, Corpse Molestation). Whereas I felt previous vocalist Chris Volcano (Ignivomous, Abominator, Denouncement Pyre) was closer to a Ross Dolan style baritone that better fit the self-titled album’s Drawn and Quartered-esque style. With S. Geoffry (ex-Abominator (Live)) bile-whetted, brutal gargle Cemetery Urn‘s latest is no less recognizable but lead with slightly more versatile pipes.
Where the pipes go the band follows and with closer inspection comes vague hints of Bolt Thrower within transitions, early Finnish death metal to flesh out pensive moments (“Death Mask Perversor”), and that classic Incantation style interplay between reeking death (“Victim Defiled”) and moldy doom(“Manifesto Putrefactio”). Most often compared to Funebrarum for this mix of influences I would rather steer this one towards fans of stuff like Dead Congregation and Drawn and Quartered that expect something more harried, sonically rich and crushingly brutal. ‘Barbaric Retribution’ is ultimately on the same level as their self-titled release from last year but it achieves that higher bar of quality through slightly different means and, despite the number of name drops I’ve tossed up thus far, carries more of Cemetery Urn‘s own retrospective sound. For preview purposes I’d say go straight for “Death Mask Perversor” for the riffs, to “Victim Defiled” for the blood-spewing vocals, and then the title track will round out the full scope of the record.
Hexing the progeny. 3.75/5.0
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