PROSCRIPTION – Conduit (2020)REVIEW

These furnace jaws are yet open and steaming, wide as a shattered carcass skull with teeth glinting a raw silvery byproduct. A league of hyaena mouths silent-howling and smeared with the carrion-scented soot of carbonization offer provenance for sentient providence away from the clawing hands and blood-thirsted fleas of broad-bosomed Gaĩa. Pyroduct expulsed titans, autochthonous yet malformed by via coldest reception of Ouranós await gleaming with obsidian stares. Pitted by time and lost in waiting for this inevitable volcanic suffocation, no cataclysm comes. We drone on like egg-laying vermin, basking in undeserved warmth whilst developing an idiosyncratic deafness — An innately honed stupidity in the face of undeserved insight; No promethean fire exists. What geologic time it will take for fumes, quake and eruption to soothe the itching presence of humanity from the crust of the Earth is uncertain yet we’ve enough evidence preserved within technology to present a species self-warped and undesirous. The strongest evidence? Cultural output during perceived endtymes reaching a debilitating low rather than a “last gasp” rapturous high, as the eldest most deaf composers of the most romantic eras might’ve while syphilitic and blind. ‘Conduit‘, the debut full-length from Finnish font of blackened death metal malevolence Proscription, demands a recollection of the great hall of death-worshiping masters as it invokes nightmarish visions of toppling pillars and deep red skies. We’re gifted what is undeserved, one last glimpse in hindsight at plagued and blackened soil taken for granted.

See the past from whatever eyes you’ve left for history but, I’d long seen great potential in the lava-drenched brutality of Colorado-borne black/death metal project Excommunion, a deep underground entity largely recognized by death metal fans for their admixture of brutal death and new millennium scourging black metal styles. Think of that project’s two main entity as molecules with alternating dipolarity, attracted by great virtuous momentum to align in unforgettable concert yet separation grants some equally fantastic resonance. Right, if you’re confused I’m referring to Excommunion‘s membership which includes key members of Nightbringer (Naas Alcameth) and Maveth (Christbutcher), the latter of which was spiritual successor to Proscription. Despite irregular releases, that late 90’s spiritus persists revived (see: ‘Thronosis‘, 2017) and in various modes of collaboration otherwise, such as Naas Alcameth providing lyrics for ‘Conduit’. What persists for Christbutcher in the interim? First a brutal death project featuring Davo Otero (of Flatline Audio, who mixed/mastered ‘Conduit’) in Dethroned and then a move to Finland that’d lead to the conjuration of Maveth. Due to its December release and the nearby Finnish boon of black/death metal at the time it was somewhat easy to overlook Maveth‘s ‘Coils of the Black Earth‘ (2012) yet it would be a hindsight addition to favorites when their split with one of my favorite bands, Embrace of Thorns (‘A Plague Through the Heavens‘, 2014) came into view. It doesn’t feel great to skim past these records but for the sake of brevity and relevance, Christbutcher‘s vision for Maveth dissolved in 2016 and Proscription is the spiritual succession of those ideals with an entirely new band. Is it the ultimate culmination of twenty plus years of black/death experience or, simply a new band that bears some continuity aligned with previous artistry?

As always, that is a matter of perception. I do think this new formation is potentially more suited to Christbutcher‘s vision, Maveth was staffed largely with members of Phlegein (and their live line-up), wherein folks sourced from Lantern and Sacrificium Carmen and The Lifted Veil represent a different balance of attunement. Of course none of this resume discussion really matters so much as this entirely new entity speaks divergent tongue to the parallels of insight shared via the evolution of classic death metal (specifically Morbid Angel, Immolation) phrasing and black metallic structural forms. In this sense I’d rather compare the core experience to that of a recent Desolate Shrine album or Bølzer rather than ‘Coils of the Black Earth’. Cruciatus (Lantern) plays quite an important role here, elevating the chasmic ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’ meets ‘Harnessing Ruin’ cleverness of the rhythm guitar work with soaring leads that anchor and electrify the rolling, twisted stomp of the experience. “I, The Burning Son” presents this freshly ornate lunging riffcraft and varied lead style with some urgency, showcasing a fine evolution beyond the more Dead Congregation-tinged clobber of Maveth. That core taste for brutality is yet in hand and will express in due time but for now drumming from M. K. (The Lifted Veil) is pushed back in the mix just enough to allow the rhythm guitars plenty of attack space as the centre of attention. The break at ~1:20 minutes into “Red Sacrament Black Communion” provides the first moment on the album that attempts to stick in the mind as a highlight and though they do top it on later pieces it remains the moment were my mind received a “this is something special” message in the form of black/death infused endorphin.

Where we travel beyond the first two songs could be seen as variations on a theme were the focus entirely upon basal song structure, pacing, and each piece ultimately delivering a bout of clever interruptus. This’d be a mild disservice to the strength and intensity of the whole which should be approach for its detail, else it wouldn’t be presented with such clarity. Cruciatus and Christbutcher appear to have found the right temperature for these pieces allowing for the reigns to shift between ’em for certain songs, such as “Thy Black Nimbus Gate”; This piece, which is co-penned by Cruciatus, may be slightly more detailed in certain aspects as it comes with a surplus of wild leads that theme the song with a simple motif that expands and contracts via the main rhythm track. It fits beautifully as the exit of Side A, a point of incredible punctuation for the first half of the record. At this point we’ve had the Rosetta stone revealed and what Proscription have brought on their debut is basically a known quantity as Side A finishes. Side B has some surprises left yet starting with the unremarkable “Voiceless Calling” provides the notion that perhaps the five and a half minute black-death romp of the first several songs would simply continue droning on. Thankfully “Blessed Feast of Black Seth” provides this enormous Azarath-esque shudder-and-jerk attack that revitalizes the full listen. It certainly should have kicked off Side B but it arrives soon enough as it is. This piece serves as yet another unforgettable highlight and would be the song that would stand out most often in reflection of the full listen. The few remaining tracks are no less interesting and worthy but you’ve gotten the idea. Big, bold movements reside within complex blackened death metal atmospherics and thankfully the lead guitars are not buried or restrained, they leap and scream enough to direct the violently rushing traffic of all rhythms unto greatness.

Blackened death metal is so often a feat of controlled chaos and exuberance yet in the hands of Proscription a certain effortless mastery streaks across ‘Conduit’, knowing when to relax and breathe deep of their own resonance. Without a mind for the finer details, or any sense of what defines black and death metal throughout the ages, ‘Conduit’ may yet be difficult to divine for those lacking proper indoctrination of forms. Clarity via proper yet stylized rendering helps to reveal some of those darkest inner-layered points of interest yet you’ll nonetheless need the patience and the ‘sight’ for these revelations. This is the mark of finest underground art which I am bound to commend — That and “Riffs man, those riffs.” A high recommendation.

High recommendation.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Info:
ARTIST:PROSCRIPTION
TITLE:Conduit
TYPE:LP
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records
RELEASE DATE:September 24th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Blackened Death Metal

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