ANTEDILUVIAN – The Divine Punishment (2021)REVIEW

…it makes no matter how good or well-intentioned the subjects may be in the start, they are sure to yield before the accursed blast, and only the fires of hell itself can stop their mad career and turn them back to normal paths. Not such a trance was that we now were witnessing. In the course of five minutes there came a change in the sleeper’s face, which became lighted up as if at that moment his soul beheld the ineffable glories of the great Beyond.” Paschal Beverly Randolph, The Wonderful Story of Ravalette

By mild torpor of entheogen, by ritualist-assisted masturbation, and by rite of ithyphallic prayer our intended sleep of Sialam achieves its eroto-comatose vision. This unsacred sexual trance, our arms and legs spread to their hottest burning splay in order to receive the Beyond, or some manner of wisened daimon, achieves no such clarity. Physical and meta-physical tandem biorhythmic course leaves the ordo spent despite all divination achieved strict and rationally infrequent, a deeper madness comes beyond the first stages of “enlightenment” in the form of sadistic possession. The dirt of worn skin and dead-eyed stare achieved within no-longer thrilling taboo spells the end of hope for primeval gnostic revelation as our rituals now begin to obsess over the transformative properties of disgust. Competitive depravity ruts all into shock, into filth’s unending willingness to heave and belch within ichor and excrement — There we become the most worthy of ‘God’ and any parasitic worm-fed fantasy of the wretched and delirious attached. Lumped into several categories but beneath them all and oozing out, the mind-curdling distort of Antediluvian yet incants the painful mania of disgusted release via their long-awaited third full-length album ‘The Divine Punishment‘. You will feel no pleasure, experience no sense of belonging or tradition and all of it will amount to a bubbling pit of scum and human flesh in ear but that should rightfully be the core appeal of this band of deviants, there is great value in knowing and perhaps even reveling in the art of discomfort.

Somewhere in between ‘Unholy Cult’, early Archgoat (or, Havohej), and Portal‘s ‘Seepia’ the nascent duo that’d formed Antediluvian circa 2006 in Guelph, Ontario arguably found their most original disharmonic voice on the ‘Under Wing of Asael‘ demo in 2008 after a couple of preliminary demos (‘Prehistorik Khaos‘ in 2006 and ‘Primeval Cyclical Catastrophism‘ in 2007) joining by proxy a new wave of ‘dissonant’ and chaotic black/death metal groups featuring frantic and brutal avant-garde compositions. Their debut full-length ‘Through the Cervix of Hawaah‘ (2011) would quickly find the project considered contemporary with the similarly inspired courses of Teitanblood, Mitochondrion, and (a year or two later) Abyssal. It should be noted that Antediluvian were true war-metallic barbarian freaks compared to many of the cerebral ‘cutting edge’ avant-blackened death acts they were categorized alongside, developing the sinister carbonized wrack of their sound rather than the precision of it over time. From my perspective their signature was concrete upon the release of ‘λόγος’ in 2013, an album that had amped up their wall-of-souls warlike dissonance while still resembling a strong overall death metal presence, violent performances unbothered by perfectionist tendencies. It was only in the hindsight and the distance provided by their split-heavy release schedule these last ~eight years that I began to appreciate the face-skinning primate presence of Antediluvian‘s discography, specifically the raw and intuitive approach of Mars Sekhmet‘s drumming.

The Ross Dolan-esque growls, flapping percussion vortices, and crumbling n’ stabbing whip of Antediluvian‘s rhythms are still here on ‘The Divine Punishment’ but the band (now a trio including Aedh Zugna of Solar Winds) have inarguably matured as soundscape artists, pouring more patience into developing nigh psychedelic movements and far more varietal/experimental craft as they toy with their tempo map as if it were a dead plaything. The grit level is satisfyingly high, the exploration of sexual depravity and defiance is prime sentience, yet the triumph here is that all other expectations are subverted. Maybe I’ve spent too much time with ‘Avow’ this year but I cannot think of a better record than this to act as both a companion and a strong argument as to the supreme influential value of Portal on the larger death metal spheres these last two decades; Not in terms of copped style but in terms of freeing the mind from the borders of traditional popular music. There is such inspiration within the experimental values expressed here that ‘The Divine Punishment’ begins to overflow by the time we’ve landed upon “White Throne”, which for me is a glaring turd in the pool. A pitch shifted (?) or at least slowed speech that goes on for nearly seven minutes with its hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. This sort of simple modulation works to texturize opener “Obscene Pornography Manifests in the Divine Universal Consciousness” to start because it integrates so well into the greater mood of the ~10 minute album opener, but this doesn’t free up any sort of new acceptance for this sort of effect beyond, at least not in my mind. Since we’re granted a full 66 minutes for the entire journey I’d just as well have gone without 2-3 pieces that either interrupted or muddled the immersion of the full listen. Is it a great record otherwise? Yes, a shockingly complete and spirited “return” to prime reign for Antediluvian.

Choral dissent, profound lead guitar swells, and a full ten minutes of rabid tribally beaten war metal brutality beneath, “How the Watchers Granted the Humans Sex Magick” is where we first see this newer more wild-eyed Antediluvian nakedly gesture towards their grotesque new form. The longest pieces here tend to offer the greater immersive value of piecemeal listens but all should rightfully blur into one greater splat of excess as the full listen is achieved. Songs here are only as long as they need to be in order to make a point, the best example being “Sadomaniacal Katabasis (Last Fuck of the Dying)” a song that is just barely over one minute long yet lands as one of the most effective bursts of energetic brutality of the lot. My favorite of the bunch, “Guardians of the Liminal”, is no less long in terms of its actual death metal content but soon begins to clock into a tribal rolling beat, eerie psychedelic guitar strumming, and sentimental violin melody that is scraped out into forty layers and abraded as the piece intensifies back to its watery death metal beating of an exit. Such maximal expansion upon ideas tailored towards Antediluvian‘s minimalistic sound design makes for a righteous rip through a barbaric psychoactive event, a trip that is lucid in the moment but does not inherently change the beast channeling quintessence. Otherwise the major appeal that kept me wheeling through the full hour was yet the play with tempo and rhythm, specifically pieces like “Temple Prostitute”, “All Along the Sigils Deep” and the impressive closer “Winged Ascent unto the Twelve Runed Solar Anus”.

For the sake of not fumbling around in the dark forever lost in the impressively woven mania of ‘The Divine Punishment’, I can walk away from Antediluvian‘s fourth full-length satisfied having surfed my way through its “sexual blasphemia” freeing myself of the need to view their work as anything but an outlier, and appreciating the whole of their discography more now that this record makes the ultimate argument for their experimental-yet-signature modus. What’d once left me sickened and uneasy now brings about waves of eye-crossing, willingly hedonistic immersion within its ravenously morbid reap. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:The Divine Punishment
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 3rd, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Avant-Garde Black/Death Metal

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