PERDITION TEMPLE – Merciless Upheaval (2022)REVIEW

The return of Tampa, Florida-based death metal trio Perdition Temple just a couple of years beyond their third full-length (‘Sacraments of Descension‘, 2020) can only be a good thing in terms of getting more lifesblood outta the band, who’d revived into current form around 2018. We want ’em on tour and cutting riffs as long as they’ll give ’em and this record is more than reason enough for the occasion. It’d never been plainly stated as such, but they’ve long been considered the second coming of Angelcorpse in the hands of guitarist/vocalist Gene Palubicki (Malefic Throne) who’d served as the heralded guitarist and main songwriter of said band as they’d set the new standard for blackened death metal in the late 1990’s, becoming intermittently active throughout the 2000’s until it became clear he’d been better off striking at his iron with a new crew. We’ve gotten a similar, always inspired sound from the project ever since and in this sense ‘Merciless Upheaval‘ fits right in with its high standards for riffcraft, tight musicianship and a raw yet straightforward ugliness to its blackened and thrashing death metal tone. Does it work as a fourth full-length? I think that’ll be the only hitch I’d snagged on while appreciating the otherwise fine work here, as they merge Side A‘s newly minted material and Side B‘s fresh set of cover songs for a half hour plus quick shot of Perdition Temple‘s most vital essence.

Rather than pick away at the fact that the second half the album consists of cover songs, all of which are excellent renditions of classics in Perdition Temple‘s style, I’ll go on considering ‘Merciless Upheaval‘ a proper loaded EP which continues the thread the band had founded on their third album. Riffs set in dense, linear streams of brutal force and delivered at high speed still direct the consistency of the band’s sound. If you’d been on board with ’em from the start with ‘Edict of the Antichrist Elite‘ that hyper ‘Covenant‘-esque sound (they cover “Blood On My Hands” here, even) is yet a well polished machine as we snap directly into the pummel of the four main pieces on this album, the title track and opener providing a fiery start which they blaze throughout with. There are a thousand details here that I’d love to highlight in this song (“Merciless Upheaval”) alone but the triplet kicked push with its bent solo atop around ~1:05 minutes in was pretty much enough of a kick back into gear for me to have been on board with this record right out the gates. You should be able to feel the inspiration firing off as the crammed and murderous arrangements reveal themselves through repeat listens, that being the main reason folks continue to love Palubicki and crew’s thread on death metal as they were among the bands pushing the 90’s sound to its limit, the ones directing the path forward alongside the ante-up of brutal death metal.

Production values here are tweaked only slightly by direct comparison and likely for the sake of distinction, whereas ‘Sacraments of Descension‘ was spacious and severe with a slightly scooped feeling that let the riffs sing and left the drums near the edges of the mix the drums are present and brutal in their assault here on ‘Merciless Upheaval‘ where drummer Ron Parmer‘s talents seriously shine for the sake of their feature being a bit louder, and well the mids being back in a serious way too as you’ll feel the moment standout piece “Execution Storm” starts to dig into it. Though there is some trade-off here with the bass frequencies mushing in a bit this is far more representative of the live Perdition Temple experience, apart from Alex Blume (Ares Kingdom) typically singing live from what I remember whereas I believe Palubicki still does vocals in studio. If you’re not listening along or catching on by now each of the four songs here counts as a big contribution and showcase for the best traits of this group and “Redemption Abbatoir” was the one to remind me that these are sophisticated machinations pushing the limits of the old ways with a fury and not just brutal throngs of linear riffs, smoking one after another and leaving a memorable mark on the record. One of my favorite tracks from the band beyond the altogether impressive ‘The Tempter’s Victorious‘ (2015) in general. Anyhow, there’ll be no faulting these finest pieces from the band on Side A of this record, their craft is still impressive and appreciably rooted in the best tradition of death metal set to outshine the generation that came before ’em.

Then we get a shot of the aforementioned generation with four cover songs from the most sinister, riff-obsessed points of the late 80’s underground and on from the late 90’s by way of a late 80’s spawned group. Infernal Majesty shouldn’t need any sort explanation here, essentially Canada’s answer to Slayer and Possessed from which these folks have extracted “Skeletons in the Closet”, a deep cut from Side B of ‘None Shall Defy‘ which still impresses for its development of its main riff by way of the deep groove in the middle of the track sprawling then tightening back up. From there we get an unexpected, outta left field choice by way of “From The Stars, Nyarlathotep” from Mexican underground black/death metal legends Shub Niggurath‘s debut album ‘The Kinglike Celebration (Final Aeon on Earth)‘, a record which is arguably better known today because their legacy has been preserved and reissued in the years since but back in the day it was a pure underground gem that’d applied their own sophistication to bestial black/death metal with a chasmic, impossibly menacing sound. Perdition Temple‘s version of this song is brutal, up front and loud versus the more atmospheric haunt of the original and this only really works for me because they highlight the frantic almost Sadistic Intent-esque riffing (by way of ‘Altars of Madness‘) that’d made that whole record something else.

When I was a kid my brother hung out in our garage learning to play the guitar, quickly pushing past ‘Master of Puppets‘ and directly kicking it along with ‘Covenant‘ within a week or so, since I’d sat there the whole time the opening to “Blood on My Hands” always takes me back to finding the auld rhythms of popular death metal classics indicative of a feral beast, a possession of the musician that conveyed much more, and felt much bigger, than the thrash we’d been listening to otherwise. The cover of it here is pretty straight forward, doesn’t miss a beat and speeds the whole gig up to a machine-gunned pace while kinda staunching the groove of the song a little bit, consider it Morbid Angel at an anxious, cranked out live performative pace. Overall the cover song that’d impressed most to start here was their cover of Pestilence‘s “Parricide” from ‘Malleus Maleficarum‘ if only because they’d transformed it beyond the point of parody which you might expect when translating a late 80’s death/thrash metal song into a doubly brutal modus, keeping the integrity of the song’s build intact while throttling it all up when it comes time to hit the riffs. If you’d followed my Thrash ‘Til Death series a few years back you know that record (and ‘The Penance‘ demo for that matter) is important to me so, the “Eh, this record is half covers?” reaction had faded out of mind at that point and all of ’em have proven well worth repeating.

Though I don’t know if all of the cover songs necessarily make this record essential on their own, the whole of Side A on ‘Merciless Upheaval‘ justifies needing to grab this record up front and especially if you were a fan of ‘Sacraments of Descension‘ but felt like the production values needed a gear or two smacked around. Riffs, huge nods to the old ways, memorable pieces and throw in the intense, brilliantly detailed cover art from maestro Jenglot Hitam and despite my best efforts to protest I’ve ended up completely sold on this latest Perdition Temple record. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Merciless Upheaval
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records
RELEASE DATE:June 24th, 2022

Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.