One of the lesser known but most consistent bands to arise in the golden age of technical and brutal death metal within Poland, this Lublin-born act now unleashes their sixth full-length since forming in 1997. It would take roughly a decade for Deivos to solidify a core line-up and lock down their technical death metal sound in 2006 with ‘Emanation From Below’, a record that was a meaningful generational step beyond important records from Decapitated, Trauma, and Vader earlier in the decade. Around this time Deivos were one of the more buzz-worthy supporting acts thanks to their association with bands like Abusiveness and Azarath alongside commanding technical performances from drummer Krzysztof Saran who continues to bring some unique flourish to an impressively blasted brutal death metal style.
For the underground brutalist and the still-standing nostalgic fans that first album, or perhaps their next two for Unique Leader Records, represent the peak of Deivos‘ discography yet no major changes have hit their sound since at least 2010 when the bass and vocal positions were filled by members of Ulcer as bassist/vocalist Jarek exited the band. The bass performances were far less involved from that point on, and the focus would stay closer to pre-2006 Decapitated (or early Cryptopsy) before groove and black metal began to afflict increasing numbers of established Polish death metal acts. Regardless of where their fruitful reorganizations have taken them throughout the years, Deivos remain a steadfast proponent of post-millennium Polish technical death metal extremity, never compromising their sound for the sake of any wild trend. With this history and reputation in mind, the stylistic focus of ‘Casus Belli’ is both expected in style and refreshing for its subtle but characteristic nods to their distinctly Polish technical brutal death metal sound.
Perhaps the most exciting narrative voice shared among the finest Polish extreme metal comes by way of an undying thematic defiance against the will of the overbearing rule of the Catholic church in Poland, just one tendril of the world-flaying religious torpor that Christianity inflicts. The provocation to war suggested within the lyrics of ‘Casus Belli’ begins zoomed out and focused upon brutal deicide from the start; Whirling imagery of great storms, nuclear events, abrupt cataclysm, and soon evolving towards personal attestations of self-rule and apathy in sight of the melting skulls of humanity. That should at least suggest Deivos are just as brutally focused as ever with criticism of religious hypocrisy and the unchanging hive mindset of fools the world over. This is a serious virtue I’ve come to appreciate when approaching modern brutal or technical music acts, as it becomes increasingly rare to find straight-faced and brutally direct examples of defiance in these avenues that doesn’t fall into plain or cartoonish nihilism.
Opener and title track “Casus Belli” offers exactly the right vacuum of brutality, technical guitar work, and some hints of groove that’ll appeal to fans of ‘Anticult’ era Decapitated. This was a point of contention at first because I’ve never really moved fully beyond the killer impact of ‘Emanation From Below’ as a fan of the band; I wouldn’t say Deivos‘ other albums are lesser only that discovering that album coincides with some great nostalgia and a prominent bass tone that was ideal for my own tastes in technical death metal. It is “Parallel Gods”, both lyrically and in terms of Saran‘s distinct use of additional (cowbell?) percussion, that pulled me back into the experience as I familiarized myself with the full listen and there a different sort of bass guitar flourish revealed itself albeit much more quietly. Shades of post-‘Domination’ Morbid Angel (see: Lost Soul) creep in as the album continues on with “Bitter End” and at this point it becomes clear that Deivos weren’t going to be satisfied with an entirely plain and straightforward release this sixth cycle in the studio. The full listen is solid, full of smaller points of distinction that work their way into the mind slowly but surely. The experience is yet aligned with the technical death metal of the first half of the 2000’s and that’d been a great point of interest for me, though it could sound mildly ‘dated’ to folks who’re looking for wanking guitar exercises and technique-driven gimmickry.
Though I’ve drifted away from brutal death metal rhythms quite a bit in the last twenty years there is a bounty of headache-inducing, nostalgic satisfaction to be had in picking up a record like ‘Casus Belli’ with appreciation for its sheer intensity and inventive rhythms, if only because there is some evident evolution beyond the ‘old days’ held within Deivos sound. The full listen never manifested into any sort of addiction but I was drawn back into ‘Casus Belli’ several times as I picked it up and put it down these last 2-3 months. Detailed and delivered with some considerable vitality for a band that’ve been at it for over twenty years, this sixth record from Deivos has yet held some repeatable value and as such I can give moderate recommendation for it.
Moderate recommendation. 3.5/5.0
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