CONJURETH – The Parasitic Chambers (2023)REVIEW

San Diego, California-based death metal quartet Conjureth return with a direct follow up to their well-received 2021 full-length debut, holding fast to their late 80’s death metal influenced sound while pushing the riff count to an impressive standard beyond the last. Instead of pandering to the devolution of the artform unto the laughable standard of so many others theirs is a craft in serious assembly, a reach for the higher standards of death metal proper before it’d been entirely dismantled and commodified. ‘The Parasitic Chambers‘ tributes the true elite standard of death metal as a frantic and dangerously violent act, blazing through its corridors and tunneling minutiae for the sake of an overwhelming, riff-crammed cataclysmic event. In other words, it is very much in line with the quality records they’ve put out thus far.

You can find some general overview of the band’s work thus far on my review for their debut full-length but I figured it was worth mentioning that my thoughts on their earlier stuff has shifted around over time. With a few years between Conjureth‘s first (‘Foul Formations‘, 2020) and second (‘The Levitation Manifest‘, 2020) demo releases I can confidently say that the latter has held up particularly well for its slightly more involved riffing, aggressive pace, and the stack of inventive ideas which greets the listener within each song. Each has its own memorable rhythmic touch but that second tape has held up especially well. What hasn’t held up for my own taste is the vocals being kinda gacked on each of those first two tapes, at least when I consider the the contained deeper register of ‘Majestic Dissolve‘ (2021) after it. Likewise I believe I’d under-emphasized the thrashing affect of the riffs on that first full-length in hindsight but otherwise my admiration for their fairly straightforward approach has sustained. The turns out to be the perfect context for what they’re up to on ‘The Parasitic Chambers‘, cranking the speed and clocking more riffs as a result.

Death metal influenced death metal. — When we consider the general quality and consistency of Conjureth‘s collective resume it’d be fair to suggest that anything less technical, aggressive and violent than what they’ve persisted with since 2018 would appear ‘dumbed down’ to some degree. So, when we consider their major aim and influence comes from late 80’s death metal that suggestion comes without strict territorial or temporal borders. It is moreso the spirit that they’ve captured with certain techniques and maniac death/thrash metal influenced compositional threads which speaks to said era, otherwise you can expect a similar description on my end as previous though I’ll emphasize the effect of sitting with the album is similar to that of Monstrosity‘s ‘Imperial Doom‘, a solid in-between for death/thrash influenced Florida death metal craft and more sophisticated riff runs. Otherwise the most brutal parts hit about as hard as Obscenity‘s underrated ‘Perversion Mankind‘ and fans of Sinister circa ’93, Massacra circa ‘Signs of the Decline‘ and such will find a strong balance of thrashing death and brutality herein. The real innovation here is (again) a shot of maniac speed, and of course more energetic pieces means more riffs. In fact by my own count this record has enough riffs to rival the word count of the lyrics.

Sticking to their guns with an unhindered thread of eight fast-burning ~3-4 minute riffcraft obsessed songs in a row, most all of ‘The Parasitic Chambers‘ demands the attention of the listener as the spectacle of these feats hit at a machine-gunned clip. This means they’ve no room to fill with extraneous presentation beyond the furious momentum built and this ends up being a key component of actual “old school” death metal inherent to their craft, it feels authentic without aiming for retro-minded emulative sound design. This makes for an album with brutal tunnel vision for its goal, barely bothering with tunefulness or any certain abundance of grooves for the sake of attacking with absolute consistency throughout most all of the album. The rush felt as Conjureth blaze through the opening riffs of opener “Smothering Psalms” basically persists for the first half hour of the listen and from my point of view this is where the band have put a lot of their energy in since the previous album, outdoing past feats with this savage thread.

The pauses in the action, or, whenever Conjureth slows down to scrape out an otherworldly groove or two, tended to be the most memorable pieces up front. “A Blood Romance” initially stood out for its mosh heavy mid-point and scaling riffs, catching my ear with its movement yet it’d been the piece before it that’d end up being the true dent made. “Deathless Sway of Torsos Calm” barely slows to a mid-pace in order to cut harder at its introductory groove but this is enough to make the brisk and brutal song at the mid-section of the album feel like it was sourced from the elite circa ’92 death metal spheres, hustling up some of the more memorable death/thrash spikes on the record for my own taste. The main point to be made is that these folks have some kind of thrilling action waiting around every corner of ‘The Parasitic Chambers‘ even if they’ve not ventured far from what’d already worked so well for ‘Majestic Dissolve‘, it won’t be alienating but it’ll be intense at a glance. The one exception to known values is arguably “The Unworshipped II”, the one piece to fully ease the pace and show what else these guys can do. It may as well be a song off of ‘Nightfall‘ due to the intense and dramatic doom metal structure of the main riff and the song’s perfectly ancient dramatism at the core of its style. It’ll feel like different band entirely for a moment there but no question they’d served an unexpected highlight worth doubling down upon at some point.

Without digging through every last detail it’ll suffice to say that Conjureth have racked-up this second album with nigh overwhelming details, enough to activate the minds of folks who seek out death metal as the mindflayer and not comfortably bumbling slog. The performances here are key in taking the forgotten high standards of old and buildering them up to speed beyond plainness. The big deal on this album in this regard is of course the stylized drum performances and the directive capability of the rhythm guitar work. The root of all action is often Frank Saenz‘ drumming, a fine example of a very human yet precise performance which adds character to each song presented without losing the focused action of classic death metal. The fact that we’re still hearing new parts of his repertoire as deep into the listen as “In Mortal Thresholds” on the far back half is impressive. Of course the whole record hinges on the quality of its guitar performances and this is the most reasonable point to champion but I’ve belabored that point well enough.

From my point of view ‘The Parasitic Chambers‘ manages to be Conjureth‘s best release to date thanks to its nigh unrelenting aggression and strong production values. They’ve found a fine way to iterate upon the successes of their debut without making the same album twice, an uptick in aggression which kept me pulling back in to parse the details and enjoy the relentless clip of it all. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (84/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:The Parasitic Chambers
LABEL(S):Memento Mori
RELEASE DATE:January 23rd, 2023

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