I believe it was top 20th century philosopher Shane Embury who once famously posited that there was, at one time, “a glut of Death Metal bands in Chile”. And the frizzy haired one’s words are as true today as they were on that BBC documentary 25 years ago, with some quality hordes such as Wrathprayer, Unaussprechlichen Kulten,Magnanimus, Godless, Athanatos, and Istengoat to name but a few spilling out of the region and into the underground over the last few years. Chile’s latest rotten fruit on the dead vine comes in the form of this debut release from trio Oraculum.
With a meaty snarling guitar sound, first track The Vessel of Orichalcum immediately sets out a stall somewhere between the down tuned ripping of the first two Bolt Thrower albums and the more vintage rage of prime time Possessed, and it’s a balance they keep up for the rest of the release. We get a concentration of primal (if a little familiar) riffing and a grasp of pacing that sees them know when to move from mid paced menace into full thrashing rage. The rasping vocals sit nicely atop it all, and again lie closer to the likes of Jeff Becerra or even Cronos than the ultra-low gurgling of old. We’re off to a good start.
Second track Primeval Flame takes an unexpected but welcome detour from the off, with a clean and delayed guitar leading into a doomier passage that builds suspense nicely before we get to the main body of the song, There’s a hint of ye olde Swedish style at work in this track (think the likes of Darkfied or early Therion rather than the more simplistic dbeat driven stuff), in the prominent use of an eerie guitar motif and acceleration into faster, blast driven parts throughout; but there’s still again a clear control of dynamics rather than simply full speed bloodlust. The trio are clearly working to create a mood instead of simply bludgeoning you to death.
And they succeed best at doing so in the latter half of the EP: Passage I is an all to brief instrumental doom/death workout based around a moody riff that Asphyx would have killed for, leading into closing track Endarkenment. A little more upbeat and brutal though it may seem at the start, but after a murderous opening minute and a half they step off the gas and drop you straight into a sulphurous torrent of slow motion horror that’s like ascending into a lower level of hell. The middle section of the song is a medley of sinister riffs that bring us to an ominous guitar melody that heralds the closing third’s return to a more intense pace. It’s the essence of death metal executed with flair and confidence.
If there’s a flaw, it’s that perhaps some of the riffing is a little indistinct or samey in places, something that will have to be worked on before the band attempt a full length; but as a start, this EP is a solid first effort that hints at a dynamic and well thought out take on the old death metal formula that has the potential to blossom into something fouler and more enthralling in the not too distant future.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes