Paean to torturous physical pain, mental suffering, and various other symptoms of religious devotion growls from the crisp yet familiar ‘classic’ death/doom metal sway of Proscrito‘s aching hymns to the outcast. The Barcelona adjacent trio’s debut full-length ‘Llagas y Estigmas’ comes not as rote imitation of niche musical personalities of the past but from a close study of the major points of impact in the early history of extreme metal when many bands would attempt to find rhythmic passageways between new found death metal and the haunting eldritch pace of 80’s doom metal. The aim is intensely specific on paper, slithering towards the most obscene doom metal gestures of early death and black metal from the lunging Celtic Frost-isms of ‘Into Darkness‘ to the similarly inspired legions of the doomed via the Netherlands’ in those same late 80’s. Not intent on producing plain hero worship, Proscrito align themselves with thrashing doom and plodding death that never equalizes into plain by-the-numbers death/doom. The thrillingly disturbed spirit of the late 80’s extreme metallic indeterminacy is evoked but not blandly imitated, condensing that well-captured ancient essence and using it to power the droning surety of ‘Llagas y Estigmas’ from start to finish.
Twisted into form beyond a revision of a prior side-project (Calvario) in 2016 this Catalonian trio would succumb to the dark in extension of death/doom metal interests shared between members of Voidkush and Arropiero by 2017 with their righteously lumbering EP ‘El Calvario‘; A muddy and stoney set of classic doom metal techniques applied to the brutal post-‘To Mega Therion’ swagger shared between a short list of death metal bands that’d come in the late 80’s that never goes full-bore death metal. The most obvious suggestion then and now is that the cadence of these compositions comes directly from a love of certain experiential peaks and valleys shared between Winter, Necro Schizma, Goatlord, and ‘Retribution for the Dead’/’Mental Funeral’-era Autopsy. Early death/doom metal has many stylistic avenues that’d bear the descriptor as some lean towards death metal at a slower pace and others might craft pure doom metal with a death metal vocal, there is no entirely clear path lain for the bands mentioned and Proscrito fits well alongside that old unincorporated order. They’ve never been fully ancient or cheaply ‘retro’, though. Expect to hear some of the slow-churning psychedelia of Heavydeath throughout ‘Llagas y Estigmas’ alongside a few nods to the chugging sludge-death ferocity of early Corrupted on a few songs.
Not only has the effective concept of Proscrito‘s sound matured between the ‘El Calvario’ EP and today but the spacious fidelity of the recording has doubled on ‘Llagas y Estigmas’ with Moontower Studios finding exactly the right balance between the funereal grinding horror of late 80’s death/doom tapes and cathedral-sized halls of modernity. Proscrito swing from Hooded Menace (“Persistiendo”) towards Pentacle (“Tronos de Oprobrio”) and then dive head first into Winter (“Exequias”) and back again within the first half of their debut so, it takes a well designed production to keep it all glued together stylistically. Of course I’m being a little bit reductive for the sake of complimenting the render of the album, each song brings much more than vague semblance of another fine band in terms of value. More of the easy-crunching feel of ‘El Calvario’ comes within the last two songs as Proscrito recline just a bit, resting into a slow-burning furor once “Marcado por la Pezuña” chills out on the driving ‘Into the Pandemonium’ riff that kicks things off and eases into 11+ minute closer “Pantalgia”. The first half of the record feels more dynamic and generates more interest on the full listen but the second half helps build out the extremity and personality of the release itself.
At just over 40 minutes the listening experience features its two greatest points of impact at the start and end of the full spin and this made the transition from “Pantalgia” back around to “Persistiendo” daunting anytime I’d leave ‘Llagas y Estigmas’ on repeat for a few hours. This book-ended structure meant the three faster-paced (and shorter) songs in the middle would express as a great feature, a chasmic opening where the energy put out by the band was almost more impactful for that juxtaposition. Proscrito‘s debut ends up a complete, entirely considered record that never gets bogged down by any careless excess. Toss in the excellent taste in classic death/doom metal alongside production values resting comfortably between the old and the new and I am happy to give a high recommendation for ‘Llagas y Estigmas’.
High recommendation. 4.0/5.0
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