Thee estranged gnosis. — A thought-form wielded as a marvel of psychic control per the private entertainment of the individual, they of Awakened astral senses and lightly tended occult powers manifest an intrepid yet starkly practical exploration of universal constancy in studied bouts of physical motion. Heredia, Costa Rica-based solo death metal project Grandiosa Muerte greets us with an eerie yet not unheard of run-on thread of hypnotic and strangely memorable death metal surrealism and occult themes on this debut full-length album, a motorized yet keenly sentient first whiff of the smoking skull. ‘Egregor‘ charms with black-thrashing gusts, classic death metal grooves, and machine fed clips of brutal-yet-searching psychic storming about which makes for an entertaining yet decidedly homebrewed vision of occult death metal.

Though the musician behind Grandiosa Muerte, Hermès, is best known for founding obscure melodic death metal groups December’s Cold Winter and Advent of Bedlam this project has an entirely different feeling from past works for the sake of a range of influences which include ‘old school’ death metal riffcraft, the ranting nature of occult black metal and the staggered waltz of Voivod-esque technical thrash metal. This is admittedly an observation that comes beyond a bit of patience for the stiffened stature of the emulated drums used, an amateurish feeling which drives the experience towards a congested “industrial” black/death metal style up front. Freely flowing yet groove-girded melodicism and a ritualistic, or, hypnotic rhythmic motion intend to smooth those harshened edges while the artist muses over various occult subjects, be they Mayan deities invoked or Chaos Gnostic magickry. Though it makes no sense to allow perceived intent to outweigh the observable outcome the whole of the listening experience does have a certain passion project feeling a la Traumatic Voyage or similar avant-garde black/death metal solo acts operating under modest means.

The major appeal of ‘Egregor‘ from my point of view is how the artist leans into the cold, machine-like nature of those programmed drums in order to conjure surreal grooves, extended chaotic dirges and a hit of brutality here and there. In this sense the “flaw” is the Servitor and the major structural component otherwise. This should not be an issue to start as we jump into album face first with opener “Mercurio” since the energy applied to the main riff is admirable and the shunted dissonant chord bashing elsewhere leaves a strong first impression. It isn’t until we get to “Destino” that the true character of Grandiosa Muerte blooms into its weirdly motorik motion-sick jog state. Here we get a pairing of a keyboard riff which’d stuck in my mind for days beyond the first listen alongside the staggered, punkish Voivod-esque rhythmic phrases which build a wall of grinding and trotting noise behind ’em. “Oculto” reprises this sensation but instead of leaning into another keyboard tip the bass guitar becomes the pivot point in developing emergent grooves in alternating patternation. This is probably the most “video game soundtrack” but death metal moment on the album, a notion probably limited to folks old enough to have witnessed early CD audio in games. Not an important side-note on my part but the electronic beats which close the song do lend a certain feeling.

Reaching the halfway point with this album a few basic observations begin to stick. First, the riff count isn’t particularly demanding of the listener but each song manages some sort of gliding purpose in its layers nonetheless. The effect is again the sensation of industrial metal influenced death metal wherein stumped grooves sends the mind poking through various atmospheric layers for interest, “Isis Sin Velo” is a perfect example of this cavernous death metal affect serving a thrashing blackened groove and all of this bumping up against a very simple chugged-at groove. It all reads very automatic, clawed-at in the moment and developed only to the point that the first riff that’d come to mind is no longer the obviate starting point. This admittedly works best on “Hereje” up front, a truly menacing song with a frantic and alarmed rhythmic sense about it, yet by the time we reach for “Arcano” in the second half this already feels redundant. I wouldn’t say this all comes together in a satisfying way on the second half until closer “Sincretismo” pulls in those chunking atonal riffs, the writhing-in-place basslines, and the keyboards for a piece which feels entirely complete. The greater takeaway is an album which has a few very bright spots of character and some excellent sense of motion in the moment but feels inconsistent and repetitive in its voicing otherwise.

While I enjoyed the momentum of ‘Egregor‘ in the moment and found it a fairly easy listen to sink into thanks to its simple guitar grooves and rhythms Grandiosa Muerte‘s debut didn’t ultimately hold up to closer scrutiny of its patternation. From my point of view the drums are too crucial a part of the experience and need a human element to tie everything into place. As such, I’d found myself going back for a couple of songs here and there (“Destino”, “Mercurio”, “Sincretismo”) which were undeniably solid but I’d eventually lost interest in full listens despite it being relatively short at just over a half hour. The lyrical themes, art direction, sound design, and such are all there but it wasn’t a lasting experience for my taste overall. A moderate recommendation.

Moderate recommendation. (70/100)

Rating: 7 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Bithume Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 27th, 2023

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