BLACK DEATH CULT – Diaspora (2022)REVIEW

No longer allowing themselves to bleed profusely of their most potent ideas in a thousand fleeting layers, the sulfurous metabolism of Canadian proto-maximalist psychedelic death metal quintet Black Death Cult begins its entheogenic anteing-up, an warp-stirred panspermic vision of arkhē now moulded into uncouth, perplexed lexicon as their second full-length arrives wisened by time and fixated on the inelegant patternation of biogeographic disperse. ‘Diaspora‘ is fittingly graced with the tweaked nerves and lidless eyes of several sub-genre dialects in hand, a primitive yet progressive stewing of avant-blackened death’s lurching, warrior-blasting ghast made corporeal by the fleshy dissociation of psychedelic doom and ambiance. In willful recognition of their most sparkling strengths this follow-up smartly emphasizes the impressive experiential overwhelm available to such an disorderly concoction while simultaneously drilling the head-bob of olden death riffs ear-through-ear.

The only assuredly human face we can apply to the primordial ooze of Black Death Cult is vocalist and guitarist Rephaim Spectre whom is suggested as Haasiophis of Antediluvian and Serpents Head Reprisal which makes some sense considering his imprint had released the cassette and vinyl editions of their debut full-length ‘Devil’s Paradise‘ in 2019 long before I’d heard of ’em and writ a short review of it when the Hell’s Headbangers compact disc edition released in 2020. The style expressed on that first record was a good fit for my own taste as they’d found some proper burl in combination of Abysmal Grief-esque organ-fed psychedelic doom voicing and non-specific bestial blackened death metal aggression. With keyboards set in prominent, at times overstated placement that debut had been an uncanny experience that’d left a bit to be desired in terms of rhythm guitar interest. It’d likewise been a strange prospect in the sense that the name of the band wasn’t at all tailored to invoke the imaginative sound they’d accomplished and instead read a bit like a placeholder; While this notion still stands on my part I have found ‘Diaspora‘ to be an all-around improvement in presentation of this psychedelic death metal idea without moving completely away from the martial bursts and classic occult black metal-isms of their debut. — Even in transcendence a few chunks of flesh come hurtling along with.

In the plainest of terms, increasingly expressive vocals and bluntly set riffs take comparative precedence over the keyboards on ‘Diaspora‘ as Black Death Cult‘s action extends into devolved death metal riffing and slow-blasted verses more often herein. This’d be fine enough suggestion as to what has changed this second time around but from my perspective a strong emphasis on tangential movements, be they psychedelia spawned or simply set in patient bursts of dissonant doom (see: “Bloodworm”) makes this album a trip rather than just another record askew, which is ultimately where I’d landed with ‘Devil’s Paradise‘ after several listens. Opener “Neon Cross” gets is there with ease throughout its nearly nine minute landscape, first presenting the atmospheric yet boldly celestial horror synth which courses through the full listen ’til it becomes time to doom, shriek and dissolve within the first movement of the piece. Lung shriveling growls and throat-desiccating shrills trade and collide their opening movement among choral swells and pinging synth unto complete disarray, already presenting a far more dynamic layering of performance than expected. This piece rescinds and re-attacks at several points throughout its length without losing its droning movement, ensuring the potential for surrealistic gains isn’t overlooked even without a larger statement clear in mind. It might appear to be the major voice of the record summed in one piece but each of the six on offer have their own innovation to, or subversion of, that energy.

“Knights of the Headless Order”, is an excellent example of this goal of psychedelic death metal hitting upon, well, actual death metal riffs throughout and it handily comes in modulation with steady-blasted bestial clangor, a modern touch to old muscle memory. It is an entirely simple tempo map at face value but the -effect- of the piece within a full listen is a sort of blurred energization. It’d be fair to say that Side A is strongly directive in terms of giving up its hardiest rhythms up front, engaging the brutalist’s lament right off the bat with heavy hits. Yet the most twisted rewards that arguably make ‘Diaspora‘ something special lay over on Side B wherein we hit upon palpable psychedelia-inspired excess, jammed-out repetition, and other mind-bending qualities that you won’t likely hear anywhere else. The shamanic-spaced build towards “River of Death” may as well be a jam from an incredibly dark Ufomammut record, to start, and holy Hell does “Inverse Moon” make this album in my mind with its almost Oranssi Pazuzu-level squirm rhythms and ‘tranced clean-vocalized mantra. This fairly short piece’d been the real clincher moment, the bit that’d taken me aback even before the surreal vocal work on closer (and my favorite song among the lot) “The Fractal Conspiracy” had me convinced I’d need to listen to this record fifty more times. Though you’ll find the war is often won within the deep cuts on my end this’d been a case of this band making all sorts of sense once the full listen had sunk in and had its biggest moments in grand conclusion.

The misplaced normative standards of dark psychedelic music in extreme metal musician’s hands offers a barren wasteland in terms of any substantive notion of psychedelia in decades past with consideration for musical value, aesthetics and performance. Yet we find more and more groups landing upon viable climes and redeemable timbre nowadays, suggesting there is precedence availably set whilst there is little in the way of inspirational mastery. With this point of view in mind it is worth championing Black Death Cult for finding a uniquely varietal, sometimes daringly set voice which represents the horror-filled psyche in strong application of extreme metal traits which are vitally blended with psychedelic (if not progressive) music’s rhythmic traditions, esoteric voicing and aesthetic value in mind. It is the right sort of fuckin’ weird and shade of fuckin’ dark to say the least and at ~38 minutes in six movements ‘Diaspora‘ is easily digested while still offering up some challenge for the obscure-attuned ear. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Info:
ARTIST:BLACK DEATH CULT
TITLE:Diaspora
LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records
RELEASE DATE:April 1st, 2022

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