Psychotic vortices, callous occult homicide, foulest sculptures of flesh, and ancient tombs unveiled all read as imposing dark fantasy imagery in parse of the deep-growling tsunami of classicist death metal trio Conjureth‘s debut full-length ‘Majestic Dissolve‘. Crafted in the image of ancient death metal but achieving far more than the usual fare by way of their own complex nature, the fairly simple self-directive with which these San Diego, California-based fellowes approach ‘old school’ death metal quickly sprawls out into a thousand-tendrilled beast capable of considerable brutality. Though we are served a brilliant debut statement packed with mind-bending aggression and an endless barrage of satisfying riffcraft herein, when all is said and done the listener should be left with the impression of a skull-cracking bruiser whom doesn’t fully know their own strength just yet.
Conjureth formed as a duo in 2018 between guitarist, bassist, vocalist and songwriter Wayne Sarantopoulos and drummer Frank Saenz, both of whom had featured in the somewhat underrated off-kilter death/doom metal project Ghoulgotha, just one of about a dozen projects from Sarantopoulos in the 2010’s where his work began to receive more notable acclaim. Though the band have suggested their major goal is an 80’s sourced death metal sound we can temper our expectations closer to the refinement of those early forms between 1989-1994 while still largely avoiding the prevalence of brutal death metal blasturbation. An old school death metal mindset paired with decades of constant riffcraft finds Conjureth‘s debut recalling an era of death metal when there were still boundaries to cross and envelopes to push in every direction. So, circa 2018 and Elektrokutioner was fresh out of Father Befouled and putting some serious time into a long awaited requiem from Encoffination, and it’d be over a year beyond formation before another ex-Ghoulgotha member, Ian Mann, joined to provide lead guitars for the otherwise ‘ready finished first demo (‘Foul Formations‘, 2020) released in February. The band had already cranked out a second demo (‘The Levitation Manifest‘, 2020) by October and I suppose this was impressive because these demos were professional in render and featured a decent standard of visual presentation but, more notably, they were stacked with riffs.
Saenz‘ fleet-footed kicking on those demos was notably a step ahead of the usual faux ‘old school’ opportunist retro crusader of today and this gives us a reason to rip some essentials out of the archives beyond the usual surface level suspects. Our first angle into this world comes by way of the highly underrated reap of Resurgency, whom are heavily reminiscent of peak Florida death metal riffcraft a via ‘Imperial Doom’-era Monstrosity and Brutality‘s ‘Screams of Anguish’, giving us a general ballpark as to what the tempo map will resort to as ‘Majestic Dissolve’ persists. Instead of making a well-worn trip towards the first two Sinister albums for some Amon/early Deicide-esque percussive confrontation in description of Conjureth‘s default attack I would suggest Vital Remains ‘Into Cold Darkness’ and Adramelech‘s ‘Pure Blood Doom’ each bear similar apices recognized by those same artists in the late 80’s but realized in full deeper into the mid-to-late 90’s. It might not feel entirely comfortable to compare these run-heavy throngs of death/thrash metal riffs to any such bands, especially if your ear can cut through the absolute fury of ‘Majestic Dissolve’ to get there, but the production does a fine job of blurring the thrashing nature of the riffs (see also: Polluted Inheritance ‘Ecocide’) into a sense of urgency and brutality.
For my own taste Conjureth are at their best when striking upon pockets of riffcraft that either present several fleetingly memorable moments of finesse in an acceptably sensical arrangement (“Possession Psychosis”) or simply fraying the mind with feats of semi-technical endurance as they chop away at high-rate ‘variations on a theme’ riff counts with intensely modulated pacing. The greater thread achieved within such a focused, relentless riff attack is fantastically invigorating if not nearly as memorable as any of the comparisons I’d made in reference to the classics. This is shouldn’t detract from the suggestion that ‘Majestic Dissolve’ smokes from start to finish, especially if you’re up for following a fantastic rhythm guitar thread for about forty minutes. It isn’t exactly ‘Time Does Not Heal’ and the actual “pocket” where many of these riffs root from only allows for moderate variance but, this doesn’t detract from the spectacle of the album’s greater chromatic assaults and chest-beaten phrasal language in the context of a full listen. Side B is where we find the fully on-fire stuff, starting with the duo of “Black Fire Confessions” and the simple but effective thrashing of “The Silent Hangings”, at this point in the tracklist we’ve had a hundred riffs beaten into ear and these might be the first to give some pause beyond enjoying a satisfyingly lain progression (or two) earlier on the album (“A Terror Sacrifice”). A clear and punitive ‘old school’ death metal voice stretches across the span of this debut full-length but the scope with which they develop the core rhythmic ideas that characterize Conjureth, again, does occasionally feel limited by the need for a pure death metal attack and I’ve no qualms with this trade-off.
Just as my mind began to yearn for some respite from the ball-peen clobber of ‘Majestic Dissolve’ the finale offered by closer “The Unworshipped” was a bit of a shock as the only mid-paced n’ chunking semi-melodic (kinda Ghoulgotha-esque) piece of the lot. I’d found this to be a huge confounding variable when I’d sit and reflect upon each full listen and not because it didn’t fit but because the odd choice of a closer gives a glimpse of what Conjureth are capable of in terms of broader spectrum death metal appreciation. Depending on your point of view it’ll either punctuate the album in an impressive way or interrupt repeated listening. The lasting impact of ‘Majestic Dissolve’ is its delivery by way of incredible force, a hard-hitting percussive feat that manages to flay minds with a difficult-to-conquer session of thrashed-out riffcraft. It may be a sign of better things to come, and I’m sure they’ll crank out something even bigger sooner or later, but in the moment I’d found the full listen consistently impressive and shelf-worthy. A high recommendation.
|LABEL(S):||Memento Mori [CD]|
Rotted Life Records [LP, CS]
|RELEASE DATE:||October 25th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp | Store|
Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.