DIABOLIZER – Khalkedonian Death (2021)REVIEW

Again this ancient Christ-cursed port of Chalcedon spews deeper of its intermittent death metal underground infection by way of Istanbul’s most impressive chthonic circle of extreme metal musicians congregating beneath the city of seven hills. Formed between members of Sacrocurse, Burial Invocation, Hyperdontia, and Engulfed in 2012 but given a sort of side-project status fore years due to their commitment to other bands, Diabolizer wasted no time in presenting their original and lasting vision upon formation — Their next level of brutality only just now cycles into reality with ‘Khalkedonian Death‘, their debut full-length and a bold statement of definition for their regional craft; Brash as that might appear, these are the right folks to make such a statement considering their collective bodies of work upholds traditions of both classic mid-90’s death metal tonality and post-millennium brutality, this album included.

We can get right to the point here because Diabolizer offer no particularly elaborate theme or presentation here to suggest the need for deep lore diving or pulling from an obscure or too ancient pool of influences. This one rips, shreds and grooves without mercy, it is a riff album that doesn’t need a lot of info talking it up. Their style is moderately technical but in a 1995-1998 sort of way, death metal with a brutal pulse. You’ll hear the same core idea coming from founding members Mustafa (guitar) and Aberrant (drums) starting with ‘Shadow of Impending Decimation‘ (2012), which’d introduced the band without any major fanfare. They’d find an even more harried sound in 2016 with the ‘Apokalypse‘ EP, which is generally more representative of the direction taken on ‘Khalkedonian Death’ minus the more refined use of lead guitars. We are leaving out some movement within the band’s line-up during the mid-2010’s where a new second guitarist and bassist arrived in 2014, left in 2016 before two new folks joined, then by 2017 or so they’d been replaced by current Nex Carnis/Burial Invocation second guitarist Can and rejoined by original bassist Malik, who are both absolute features on this album.

Diabolizer‘s early style could be reasonably compared to the best of Vomitory and early Monstrosity but as they moved towards the first EP there was more of a ‘Hate’-era Sinister style worked into their increasingly loud and brutal sound. Clean, orderly, brutal yet precise death metal written for two guitars and punching at a Centurian-hot pace most of the time. So what has changed since 2016, then? Well, they’ve certainly upped the bar in their other projects and Diabolizer suffers the same symptoms of improved skill and conception overall. Though I think comparisons to Hate Eternal undersells the amount of steady bulldozer groove they pull off throughout this album, the upfront violence of that early 2000’s era of death metal is still important to these guys and they’re not dumbing down their sound or reaching for anything trendy here. I think if you love albums like ‘Imperial Doom’ and ‘Hate’ as much as I do but also look for a serious and dynamic upgrade towards a hall-shaking blasted pace, this is going to be your gig.

If we can consider Diabolizer‘s initial goal has remained steadfast then we can praise ‘Khalkedonian Death’ as a success in terms of intending to be “more brutal” than their other projects and yet upholding those same high standards for sound design, complexity, and trendless ideation of violent underground death metal. It won’t feel incredibly involved as a full listen until you’ve acclimated to the level of detail in the rhythm guitar work, the constant lead guitar tangents, and paid attention to the interplay between the bassist and the drummer, both of whom are impressive but not too-obvious features in terms of performance due to how over the top the vocals and lead guitars are to start. The second piece on the album, “Maelstroms of Abhorrence”, is where my ears start to dig into those details as we hit ~35 seconds into the song and get a subtle but important phrase from the bass intimating the larger melody or, movement of the piece as it develops, rasped vocals arrive around 1:39 minutes in and soon become a key extra layer for atmosphere as further verses develop, soon trading off with leads as the main phrasal driver at 2:16 minutes. In the space of three minutes we cannot plainly suggest that this band is simply modulating their influences or warping their collective favorite band’s sound but creating something that is guided by their own hand and it is surprisingly tinged with technical death touches without fully going there. Sure, your late 90’s/early 2000’s death metal collection will roll off the shelf as if it’d heard a mating call from its kind to start but, Diabolizer is no throwback act.

From there much of the record upholds the detail and impact of its initial statements. We find a groove-and-scree grinder pushing the grooves of “Mayhemic Darkness And Possessed Visions”, a bit of that later 90’s Vomitory edge and more faintly ‘blackened’ momentum on one of their better pieces, “Sulphuric Vengeance”; The payoff for sticking around if a couple of those mid-album songs didn’t impress (or offer enough variation) is my favorite piece “Spearfuck The Throes Of Treason” which shows they’ve got some atmospheric ideas to spread around even if the point is to kill mercilessly throughout the full listen. I’d had a great time listening to this record for its relentlessly hard yet still intricate movements which always boil down to prime death metal progressions as the sort of main event in each piece, the solos and changes of key or pace are a big draw but the colossal movement of the machine as a whole is what sticks best here. We’re getting more than a caved-in skull from listening to Diabolizer and I’d appreciated that virtuosic bass riffs, and wall-to-wall shredding on this album sophisticate what could’ve been a somewhat pedestrian droning wallop for most. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Khalkedonian Death
LABEL(S):Me Saco Un Ojo,
Everlasting Spew Records
RELEASE DATE:July 2nd, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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