THAUMATURGY – Tenebrous Oblations (2023)REVIEW

Dark offerings sent by a whirler of impossible dread to actualize the non-dual gnosis of a well-hidden cult, wherein the compendium of knowledge on the subject of death proves impossible to demystify. Midwestern blackened death metal project Thaumaturgy arrive upon their debut full-length statement satiated by the cryptic and meandering nature of their work, a forty minute thrashing waltz of tremolo’d riffs and lung-deep growls which intends to reveal little more than the very brunt of its destructive magic to the unwitting listener. ‘Tenebrous Oblations‘ comes without a face, with crossed arms, and zero intent to connect with the humanity of the listener as it emanates a slow-swerving symphony of dread and distortion in waves written for two guitars. The experience outlines the making of a potent occult curse ritual in the midst of released, the hypnotic casting of doom upon all through esoteric diabolic prose.

Thaumaturgy formed circa 2021 by way of a musician named KT who resides in the state of Kansas. That’ll have to be all of the background information available for now beyond cover art and a decent set of songs. The only practical precedence the keen listener might prepare themselves with is limited to their debut mLP (‘Charnel Gnosis‘, 2021), which’d been described as “cavernous” death metal by most when it’d released. The artist’s initial work exists on the same plane as their full-length, tremolo picked riffs are the major conductor for the (eventually) reformed traditions of fluidity beyond “caverncore” experienced in the mid-2010’s wherein atmospheric death metal bands were less often lumped in with average Incantation clones. In the case of their first mLP brief hints of doom metal rhythmic shapes kept the pacing curious in its lilt and some vaguely blackened threads helped to differentiate each piece to some small degree, this more-or-less continues to be true on this first LP. Though their work wasn’t necessarily carrying the compositional strength or weighted riffs of Krypts nor the bestial detailing of the similarly distanced work from Wrathprayer there was some promising ambition shining through that first release. A couple of years later the follow-up full-length realizes this general modus in an even more straightforward fashion than before.

It might seem odd to suggest that ‘Tenebrous Oblations‘ aims for atmosphere first and riffs second due to the rhythm guitar tones being the clear focus of the album’s production values and expression yet the effect of said arrangements tends to read as more profound than the details of the phrases themselves, most of which echo in cinematic strand around motorized programmed beats. The major language of the rhythm guitar work is typically my kind of thing, though the actual variety is somewhat lacking overall, and largely because the riffs have some readable intent behind their meander. The droning aspect of the rhythms grants an effective enough feeling yet the immersion available occasionally breaks up as a few pieces step into different pacing (see: “Rites of Uncreation”) accentuating the emulated drumming within slower sections. Otherwise, there is an ocean’s worth of waves to follow along with if you’ve any interest in the trancelike effect of tremolo picked death guitar riffs set to ominous weave. When considering the overall effect of the full listen it is safe to say Thaumaturgy haven’t taken a step back from their debut mLP so much as they’ve simplified the impact of their work down to their guitar-directed atmospheric thread, I’m not sure that it sounds better that previous work but does a fine job of emphasizing the major focus of the work.

After several cursory listens meant to grant myself some sea legs for the greater trip I’d realized this was not an experience that’d lend itself to obvious highlights or big ‘heavy metal’ moments. “Rites of Creation” certainly got my attention for the amount of ground it covers, “Plaguearchon” shows some potential in blending brutality with thick and swaying atmosphere, and “Null Cosmic Womb” is arguably the best piece here for its sly, slow built transformation yet most every song on the tracklist maintains a similar tonal reach and set of rhythmic statements. Though this leaves little to pull from the album in terms of long-term appreciation ‘Tenebrous Oblations‘ is no less of an impressive example of atmospheric death metal well worth picking up for those squarely inclined towards its straight forward approach. The overall package is impressive in its cover art and the overall aesthetic and all of it appears well considered in its greater dirge for the sake of meeting an above average standard, though it might take some time for the impact of the full listen to sink in. A moderate recommendation.

Moderate recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:THAUMATURGY
TITLE:Tenebrous Oblations
LABEL(S):Adirondack Black Mass
RELEASE DATE:January 20th, 2023

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