DEATHCULT – Of Soil Unearthed (2022)REVIEW

Though it has been nearly six years since their debut full-length and twelve since forming Zürich, Switzerland-based death metal quartet Deathcult haven’t changed their modus or core characterization drastically since their first official release (‘Demo MMXII‘, 2012) followed formation in 2010. Said style establishes some personal stride between early Scandinavian death metal rhythmic activity by way of the precision simplicity of 80’s North American death metal tenets, evil thrashing-forth stuff delivered under duress, a coldly meandering percussively stabbing dread delivered with serious-faced impure austerity. This doesn’t necessarily boil down to dry-stock ‘old school’ death metal style but should imply a notably realistic presence and/or the feeling of a live and stripped down raw death metal performance. As suggested, this reality has not morphed into unrecognizable beast or ‘progressed’ unto awkwardly high-concept pretension for this second full-length but we do find the taste of Deathcult‘s riffcraft evolving toward larger statements of claw-winged aggression on ‘Of Soil Unearthed‘, an album still rooted in the late 80’s/earliest 90’s era of death discipline and honestly displayed with a certain waterlogged homebrewed gnarl that reinforces the ideal skull-clubbing force underground classicist death metal -should- possess.

Pleading for Death​.​.​. Choking on Life‘ (2014) was a bittersweet breakthrough moment for the band having lost their original bassist D. Keller to cancer prior to release and being the final release from the band to feature notably distinct performances from Okoi Jones of Bølzer on vocals/guitar, though he would perform bass on their debut LP ‘Beasts of Faith‘ (2016). This debut was best compared to groups like Kaamos and Verminous to some degree, though the shades of ‘Scream Bloody Gore‘ and ‘Severed Survival‘ and their exaggeration within albums like Sentenced‘s ‘Shadows From the Past‘ were arguably more important in terms of the overall tempo map and its differentiation from typically nostalgic 80’s death metal reference. An ominous early Finnish death metal rhythm guitar influenced presentation extended into some of the more memorable riffs on that debut and a similar ratio notably presents on ‘Of Soil Unearthed‘, characterizing the listening experience with extra curvature to expected forms; “Black Vapour Coagulation” and “On Primal Wings” weave these arcane, eerie steps into hypnotic yet kicking rhythms in said spirit. Though this isn’t he full ‘point’ of statement, in my own experience these pieces offer the most inviting darkness to behold on this album and are worth mentioning up front in order to represent the most memorable sections Deathcult have to offer overall.

The best parts of ‘Of Soul Unearthed‘ otherwise toy with the corpse’d language of ancient death metal’s earliest sophistication only briefly before winding up their own riff narrative, the ear-catching late 80’s ex-thrasher rhythms found on songs like “Doxology and Putrescence” aren’t so direct in their construct that the experience feels dryly ‘retro’ in mindset; Though this song is admittedly set to thrill the palate of ‘Leprosy‘-enjoyers and such to a less obvious degree. In my own experience this’d built some immediate fealty to the Deathcult cause, appreciating a simple expansion of the elder-ripping ways which only become more elaborately stated in their violence as the full listen drives on. None of this’d been so convincing if it weren’t delivered through a sort of throttled rehearsal grade feeling thanks to bluntly clobbering bass drum hits and a cold flesh-chewing guitar tone which is at once shattered, dually voiced and omnipresent, filling the space as a mid-to-late 80’s bestial death/thrash metal band might’ve without any of the drab compression. “Swine of Oblivion” showcases their strong use of this tone for its faster sections while also indicating nothing they’ve included since 2010 has necessarily left their repertoire, such as the additional shouted/clean vocals which emphasize certain verses.

The larger suggestion on my part is that there are myriad details and dungeon-borne tonality in hand yet ‘Of Soil Unearthed‘ is neither abrasive nor tedious in action, flowing together in black and red spiraling turns with a certain occult obsession under skin. The full listen feels far more brisk than expected at just under 50 minutes and I’d be surprised if any listener could make a case for anything but exemplar death metal riff execution and illustration had they sat through the full gig and sunk into its terror. Much as the mechanics of the full event are impressive in terms of style, realism and amateur yet polished formations, the effect of listening struck me most profoundly as I’d felt the old energy of death metal stalking the ear with anxietous doom and the fraught mayhem of modern man layering atop those basal horrors. The tumult available to Deathcult is the most exciting part of leaving either of thier full-lengths on repeat and I continue to be a fan of this ancient death magical stave reignited. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Of Soil Unearthed
LABEL(S):Invictus Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 28th, 2022

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