Any major influential work within an insanely iterative genre has the potential to absorb the achievements of others by proxy in becoming a too-oft referenced zeitgeist. Though Venom are surely the most by proxy zeitgeist of all time for extremist heavy metal a very close second comes with the stylistic evolution from Hellhammer into ’84-’86 Celtic Frost. Without a doubt those formative works inspired to the point of legend and appear as glorious determined youth by comparison with their ridicule worthy mid-to-later periods of activity. There is instant gratification with wide appeal in referencing the amorphous qualities of those great works as generations forth spawned black metal (Darkthrone), black/thrash (Aura Noir, Usurper), death/thrash (Messiah), death/doom (Winter), and everything in between always with the blender of the Frost‘s riffs in mind. in the case of French/Dutch duo Dungeönhammer their approach sticks surprisingly close to the original vision that spawned ‘To Mega Therion’ while modernizing and extending the doom and speed metal rhythmic fusion that characterized it.
To their benefit or detriment, depending on the listener, Dungeönhammer sound inescapably reminiscent of Celtic Frost largely thanks to vocalist/guitarist E.‘s cadence and tone being ~75 percent in the Tom G. Warrior field minus the infamous *ugh!* and I should point out that for my tastes this is a huge ‘pro’ and not a ‘con’ in the slightest. A sonic resemblance and cadence is one thing but ‘To Mega Therion’ was more than a sound and it survives by the majesty of the riffs, which have been largely untouched since Dream Death‘s ‘Journey into Mystery’. In fact I’d rather compare ‘Infernal Moon’ to Dream Death‘s debut for its extended ranting riffs, doom leanings, and circular rhythms less characteristic of Warrior‘s larger output. It is a minute degree of separation but at least worth mentioning.
First impressions had me ready to jump in with some of my favorite bands in this style like the indomitable Pentacle‘s death/thrash circa ’95/’96 or more recent records from Apokalyptic Raids or Matterhorn but none of them really match up with Dungeönhammer in terms of pacing and vocal performance. ‘Infernal Moon’ generally shifts between two phases that either focus on jogging speed metal and mid-paced doom metal; It feels more like ‘To Mega Therion’ spawn than ‘Into the Pandemonium’ did but doesn’t create the same level of interest with compelling riffs so much as does provide solid rhythms. The intention seems to be a riff on tradition rather than a reinvention or imitation and this only slightly limited my investment over time and largely compelled me to revisit the small collection I have of bands with similar approach and/or sound.
After each listen to ‘Infernal Moon’ I’d ask myself “Which track stood out?” and it soon became clear that the middle portion of the album, specifically the trio of “Solitudinem Mysteriis”, “Perpetual Funeral Winds”, and “Stigma Diaboli” received the most care as the core experience; Around six minutes each the three tracks feature a slow-to-mid pace and lean into a more traditional galloping doom metal kick. This slower style surely outweighs the speed metal found on the shorter songs in terms of interest as memorable riffs aren’t the absolute focus of either style of composition included. I could easily recommend any of the aforementioned tracks along with the closer “Ad Infinitum” for preview and you’d get a clear idea of what Dungeönhammer are up to on their debut full-length. It is very much a ‘doom/speed metal’ record in my ears despite the blackened thrash metal label descriptor given. The riffs won’t change your life or obliterate your mind but for all of my scouring of this album’s solid grit it felt damn worthy as a Celtic Frost/Dream Death style doom-banger of a record.
Coronation of the tormented. 3.5/5.0
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