DEVILPRIEST – In Repugnant Adoration (2022)REVIEW

Transforming the perception of the iniquitous cult beyond antiquated primitivity, the refined contributions to bestial Satanic death metal craft with blackened purpose from the dagger-gripping fists of Silesian duo Devilpriest convince by way of merciless attrition but, not solely so. Their long awaited second full-length album, ‘In Repugnant Adoration‘, may be no less in service to the grand traditions of blasphemic death worship and vile riffcraft forged in the early nineties yet there is some reasonable argument made within their steady-handed craft that any merit earned arrives through the wiles of songcraft and finesse of performance, a feat of mastery within the bounds of the best tradition. Though I risk the thought becoming cliched in mind, it would be fair to say that this is a work well-worthy of four or five years spent in speculation, training and exacting execution.

Devilpriest formed as a quartet in 2015 between members of well-regarded underground black/death act Anima Damnata and musician Tom Hermies who has had stints in Embrional, the revival of Imperator, and recently joined Deus Mortem on second guitar. Having been a pact between professionals from the start it’d taken less than two years for their first result as a trio, a debut LP in the form of the Pagan Records released ‘Devil Inspired Chants‘ (2017). It was a remarkable blackened death metal thread, owing to the brutal eventuality of early 90’s Florida death metal in direct transference with classic Polish death metal, embracing the bestial blackened death metal aggression found in the early works of bands like Azarath and Thunderbolt. The Satanic themes and somewhat mid-paced approach of the band made for an album which was decidedly more atmospheric than they’d likely intended but certainly memorable for its bold presence and mindset. While most of that debut was commanding, violent and impressive in spectacle it’d sort of petered out towards its ending, fading out on a flat note. With that one criticism aside that debut is the main reason I was outside of my skin, raring up to hear what Devilpriest had done next and, who could blame me after a five year gap.

Outraged, inhumane high-fidelity production values ensure the band’s presence is immediately felt as “Shem-ham-forash” grinds out its dramatic opening moments, the hammer of Necro Docre‘s snare mere feet away from kicking in my skull and the guitar work roaring forth from all possible raining-down angles. The intense fullness of the render creates a too-rare vacuum of brutality which does not swallow the details, ensuring that this second Devilpriest record roots the listener in a burning cathedral-sized room without escape as these mayhemic sermons make delighted paste of the willful mind. For all of the concrete whipping severity required by the type of music attention paid to the precision of dual guitar voicing allows for every nuance and note to count in three dimensions, this soon reveals the tightly inserted melodic quips of Hermies‘ guitar work, which’d been deeper buried and admittedly less developed on the previous record. “The Eye of Set” is the most gaping example of the fire-filled chasm in ear but likewise a decidedly strong piece in feature of the rhythm section’s bolstering the nuclear heat of the rhythm guitar tone. The bass guitar sound growls mid-mix while also bracing the forward launch of each riff with great power, making that particular song memorable within the ~37 minute scald of the full listen. Sound design for this type of record is rarely so enriched, fleshed out and arranged with intention beyond caustic reference, so, it should be no surprise that the mix/master comes from the otherworldly hand of Satanic Audio.

Walpurgis” cracks wider the atmospheric reach of Devilpriest‘s sound with a sprawling, marching start which soon erupts in a way which’ll naturally meet the expectations of the returning fan while also featuring their far more blast-heavy approach to even their most simmering pieces. This is the general peak of my interest in the album as we press into Side B and hit upon only a few key points of interest within the last two pieces. The intensity has been cranked, the riffs are no less revelatory and no question “Flesh Sculpted out of Filth/Deliverance” is easily one of the best pieces on the album but the energy of their output has steadied at this point and all that remains is to complete the ritual without further surprises. Fans of ‘Exterminate‘-era Angelcorpse will particularly “get” the rush of aggression at the end of the album though I didn’t find the endpoint of the record as much of a thrill as its first two thirds, likely for the sake of extra variety conquered. The closing track “Flowing Downwards” is a cover pulled from the classic contributions of the Finnish avant-black spectre Black Crucifixion via their first demo tape and the song has certainly been transformed rather than replicated, a brutal treatment of the still intact central groove of the piece. It ends up being a very strong closing moment for a record which otherwise exhausts and rewards in tandem.

Devilpriest have outdone themselves here between the hundred riffed and gloriously captured feat that is this second full-length, to the point that I’d found it taxing on repeat but damned near perfect as a single inspiring sitting. I’ll reiterate the point that there won’t be any particularly innovative work found here beyond a particularly high standard of musicianship, production values and successfully murderous and ‘evil’ extreme metallic furor in stunning performance yet it absolutely counts for a lot in my book when a band does such fine work within this admirable tradition, raising their inspired work far higher in value compared to the sagging standards of hobby grade black/death craft elsewhere. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:In Repugnant Adoration
LABEL(S):Odium Records
RELEASE DATE:November 12th, 2022

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