Boethiah – Celestial Gateway (2018) REVIEW

The caped, genderless, battle-axe wielding Daedric prince of treacherous deception and conspiracy, Boethiah, is also a symbol of unlawful defiance of authority in The Elder Scrolls universe. All depictions of them amount to a pure and insistent evil but through any quest or interaction within you’ll likely end up rooting for whatever tumultuous destruction that results, at least the stuff that isn’t aimed at subverting your own crusade through Tamriel. Whether or not you would ever trust a Dunmer to begin with, it does bear mentioning that Boethiah is seen as one of the benevolent gods dating back to their primeval culture as the Chimer. For the more casual lore-ignoring player you might’ve done Boethiah’s bidding in Skyrim by murdering his Champion in order to receive the Ebony Armor, which is pretty sweet considering it imbues attacks with poison damage and allows for stealth despite being a heavy set. But hey Corona, California based death metal project Boethiah eased up their Elder Scrolls themed lyrical focus beyond their first demo ‘Agents of the Dawn’ (2014) and would include similar odes to Lovecraft’s horrors, death, and disease on their ‘Invocation Of The Xenolith’ full-length earlier this January. This latest EP builds on the sound of that album but now focuses on their own set of sci-fi themed terrors.

If you hop over to their Bandcamp and run through their discography you’ll notice Boethiah didn’t really have their shit together when they started back in 2012. The raw thrashing death style of ‘Agents of the Dawn’ came hot off of the dissolution of local thrash project Decay and sounded like a bedroom project more or less. Around 2016 Derek Price‘s (bass/drums, ex-Decay) vision for the band went from a four piece garage band to a seriously viable two-dudes DIY collaboration with vocalist/guitarist Sean Benson; This was a leap ahead indicating a good working relationship. The resulting ‘Boethiah’ (2017) EP served as a marked advance in quality and a point of departure from death/thrash towards a Boss HM-2 infused sound that recalls early Afflicted and Interment between the raw crunching grind of their riffs and creeping Nihilist ah via Unleashed grooves.

Things don’t really get interesting until the punchy d-beat riffing is sort of out of their system; Nothing against the heaviness on hand but they’ve not yet harnessed the HM-2’s gifts in as gnarly a fashion as Entrails or Mass Burial. When Boethiah slow down their buzzsaw attack and aim for atmospherics a la some futurist Nocturnus (or later Eternal Dirge) style, they pretty much nail it on a cosmic scale. “Charting the Unknown” and “Black Seas (Of Infinity)” contain a respectable balance between space-faring and snarling beasthood but “Drifting Into the Void” is the kicker here as far as capturing the essence of what Boethiah bring to the table and I’d recommend it as your first preview alongside “Beneath the Mist” just for it’s greasy, cave-shaking Autopsy-fied grooves. These guys are pretty green but it isn’t really showing anymore and despite being entirely do-it-yourself ‘Celestial Gateway’ sounds sharp and professional in 2018. Here’s hoping the momentum continues to rip on head first from here. Recommended, especially for Finnish and Swedish death metal buzzsaw mutants.

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Artist Boethiah
Type EP
Released September 21, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Camo Pantws Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Boethiah on Facebook
Genre Death Metal

Extremophilic toxinogenic horrors. 3.75/5.0

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