DEIQUISITOR – Apotheosis (2023)REVIEW

The orgiastic climax of a doomed, sunken species. — For a set of old skulls with strong hippocampal nodes intact the true magick of Sjælland Djævleøen-based death metal trio Deiquisitor is reserved for the sweated-out rifling of the rehearsal room. This is where pure ‘old school’ underground death metal events occur in truth, wherein the reverberation of ideas meet the hideous bluntness of a well shattered space in real time to conjoin the physical act of brutality at a fleet standard with the wreckage of their diabolic machinations. Having deeply breached a certain level of uncompromising craftmanship over the course of several releases, a thus far difficult beast to contain within a studio recording, we find the band approaching with a fourth full-length album, ‘Apotheosis‘, which reflects the genuine experience of being shredded to death by the very real and raw presence of their sound. Expect outrageous ancient brutality and miserable filth within the vortex of their apocalyptic cult-lair as its mysteries are revealed.

Deiquisitor formed back in 2013 between folks who’d played in various war metal bands starting in the early 90’s, or, at least that’d be how we’d label them today. Perusing former projects reveals a consistent love for both classic grindcore and the equally blasted-out pace of early Immortal in their past as black metal musicians (see: Solherv et. al) and much of this is still part of their basal approach to extreme metal in general. The important point to make in gathering precedence is that sustaining a brutal pace and a severe ‘old school’ presence aren’t matters of recreating olden sensibilities but rather a major symptom of the band’s idiosyncratic nature developed over the course of a few decades of possession, you will find all avenues cumulative over time even if the focus of this band is squarely set on pure death metal without falter.

Since I have reviewed each of the three previous releases from Deiquisitor I’ll primarily mention them as a descent into escalating violence wherein ‘Downfall of the Apostates‘ (2018) would reintroduce the public to their sound per a larger record deal beyond their debut and ‘Towards Our Impending Doom‘ (2019) would take a step which I’d describe as away from ‘Path of the Weakening‘ and towards ‘Here in After‘ when taking an ear to their riffcraft and the rhythms which direct. Consider their craft along the lines of earlier Exmortem, Dead Congregation and compatriots Chaotian wherein classicism, brutality and very mild abstraction lend character to the band’s battery-driven pummeling. In fact as their latest mLP (‘Humanoid‘, 2021) released it’d been mentioned that composition-wise Deiquisitor often begin with a tempo map or the major guidance of drum patternation to build the otherwise guitar driven riff-fest available to their work, eliminating the initial translation of riff to meter and placing great importance on the work of the drummer as the unmistakable backbone of the experience. Musing over the possibilities seems to lend a responsive yet wandering command of the death metal riff, one which is tightly sutured to the percussion available but not so much that its work cannot be reactive. The result is of course Deiquisitor not only have riffs and brutality to back them up but that it all works as death metal music for the sake of an emergent, unpredictable yet relentless sense of progression.

Apotheosis‘ splits the difference between the rawed-up scald of ‘Humanoid‘ and the readability of prior releases by aiming for a filthier, most realistic render of a death metal trio performance. The primary rhythm guitar tone/voice is well emphasized despite plenty of additional tracks included and a complete economy of leads and second guitar harmonization otherwise takes a step behind the drumming and roar of vocalist/guitarist TFJ. That is to say that the album is certainly written for two guitars but we don’t find the space cluttered with unreal and outsized guitars beyond this core stance. This lends a ‘live in studio’ feeling to the performances which make good use of blurred and brutal tempo, deathgrind-level temperament, and some semi-dissonant phrasing to build upon the cavernous heaviness available to their arrangements. In terms of furthering the occult-infused science fictive apocalypsis found in most all of Deiquisitor‘s work I’d found the more intense grinding blasts and some almost early 90’s death/industrial metallic flair (see: intro to “Reflected by the Void”) I’d felt like this was another big step taken towards matching the character their surreal lyrical themes and cover art present up front.

In fusion of man and machine the resultant abominations of technology set alight by the occult sciences are inevitably deranged in the hands of Deiquisitor, who project endtimes rife with self-cannibalistic monstrosities and horrors arisen from unsuspecting near-earth objects. In every way a song like “Humanoid” sets the listener within the dissolving flesh and unthinkable eldritch futurism of this world as it turns out ten times darker than imagined. The rattling gloom of its discord swells, strikes unmercifully with a fresh sort of blunted instrument and bleeds out by way of shredded leads and coldly plucked clean guitars leading directly into the brutal berzerk of “Striving For Destruction”. Having been a fan of this band since the release of their second album of course I’d been been on board with the dire, darkest thread of riffcraft yet as those first two pieces represented a tunneled and frightening roar from beyond. I particularly love the clear yet still snapping hit of the snare as the crucial keeper of the crypt throughout the album but the cymbal work on the main verses of “Striving For Destruction” especially helps to reach a certain level of phrasal guitar/drum interplay which we don’t necessarily find even at the peak of 90’s underground brutal death metal. This is part of the argument made for the signature of Deiquisitor’s rhythms beyond their run-on, tightly woven nature as it develops within increasingly organic yet properly stylized sound design.

As we dive headfirst down the slime-ridden corridors of Deiquisitor‘s haunted space station of atrocities ahead of us it is worth noting that these choices, the bluntness of the guitar work and the semi-buried hits of the kick drums, speak to an actual performance and how they interact in real space alongside some additional detail for clarity. The quest for capturing how a band sounds live, within reason, on record is far more admirable than tuning a production value to a short list of influences and this is worth championing in the midst of a drought for any truly palpable personality existing within the ‘old school’ inspired death metal headspace. Sure, cut into certain sections of “The Eyes of Worms” and you’ll still get that hint of ‘Here in After‘-era Immolation in the pounce and retreat predatorial action of it all but you’re not getting a clonal genetic expression overall. This is more or less where the momentum of the record is at its hottest as the smaller details, such as the vocal interplay of its initial verses on “The Eyes of Worms”, begin to add up to a continuous flood of ideas which overwhelm on initial listens. Though I wouldn’t say the more riff-driven push of “Apophis” is yet the peak of the rhythm guitar work on the full listen it is a fine example of a guitarist who can push a pretty basic death metal riff idea into development rather than repetition and still manage a memorable statement.

“Reflected From the Void” is not a sea-change so much as a Side B apropos kick off where we begin to see more of what ‘Apotheosis‘ has to freshen the pot with and Deiquisitor are certainly not letting up on the severity of their actions. This’d been my favorite song on the album to start, it slows things down with a memorable groove which crops up a number of times and they’ve built upon that groove in an expert way. My only complaint is that the idea warranted a six minute song but they’d cut and faded out nearby four, hurrying towards the rest of the second half. Though their mapping of “Atomic Assassins” is more basic, straightforward brutal slashing than most any other piece on the album it is nonetheless an energizing burst towards the end of their rope but I think once you’ve heard this piece you’ll get the early Exmortem (see: ‘Labyrinths of Horror‘) reference I’d made earlier. As we end on the most frantic, almost early Deicide-esque dual vocal scourging of “Praise the Lord” I’d just as well recognized the song as one from their previous life as Wolfslair. It is fittingly rethought and purposed as the closer of this more outraged side of the record, these folks have clearly built beyond this type of work over the years but the core savagery of their attack is not lost in this process of refinement.

Though it does not endeavor to be outwardly cerebral or even slightly pragmatic in its cosmic-horrified dark death metal reap there’ll be no doubting Deiquisitor‘s fourth album begins to perfectly capture what is unique about their work, and what their own brutal current is capable of when presented as they’d like it: Enrobed in filth and slapping unholy most all of the time. The major interest here on my part is piqued within the first six or so songs wherein the rhythm guitar and drum interplay present a twisted yarn worth following as it flows, the rest of the album is an invigorating enough bonus upon the experience. Even if Side B loses itself to the violence of the hunt that barbarian roughness it is at least some measure of contrast within the compressed, suffocating-in-space sensation ‘Apotheosis‘ presents overall. I’d appreciated the persistent violence of their actions as a solid ~40 minute death metal record. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Extremely Rotten Productions,
Night Shroud Records
RELEASE DATE:January 20th, 2023

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