Review: Process Of Guilt ‘Slaves Beneath The Sun’
A piece by Lee Jeffries titled Christ showing an emancipated man adorns the cover of Process Of Guilt’s newest venture into the dissection (or process) of human misery with Slaves Beneath The Sun. His body draped in light while looking longingly above. I can’t help but feel an extreme connection at this image. It’s so slathered with patience and complete embracement of surroundings. A marriage of relief and exhaustion seeping from his eyes.
Process Of Guilt have been slinging a wide foray of various metal genres for over 15 years. Members Hugo Santos and Nuno David share guitars and vocals duties taking turns to reach as far as humanly possible into the void. This leaves Custódio Rato on bass and Gonçalo Correia on drums to reign things in and contain the sounds from becoming a mess. By their own admission, Slaves Beneath The Sun goes more intense and dark than on previous releases. This had me chomping at the bit to wash my mind clean with this sludgy death metal affair.
What makes any task either gorgeous or ugly is relation. Without that, it’s just an inauthentic chore. Years ago, I attended a music festival with the girl I was dating. She was, and remains, a staple performer at this festival and as she set up her derelict acoustic equipment, hordes of shoeless vagabonds filled the backstage area drenched with enough pot smoke lingering, it was assumed their argument over who the greatest bluegrass legend would be more than forgotten. Years later I think of that backstage when I met my friend Tito. We talked because we were wearing the same Rosetta shirt at an Electric Wizard gig.
I digress, as feedback drifts out the speakers like dense smoke as album opener Demons begins. Aggressive riffs settle in as the vocalist belts ‘the ones before you tear out the sun’. Everything feels like it is dripping with a tasty urgency my mind hungers for. Scars starts so seamlessly that my first listen led my ears to think Demons was just really long. That’s not to imply the track doesn’t stand on its own. Really these songs can be ridiculously long, so you’ll forgive my assumption. The guitars grow more layered, the drums are shaken and go less dense as each part begins boiling over and bleeding together. The vocal duties, now stacked, make something so deranged and angry it lays atop, sounding so vast it’s easy to find yourself getting lost staring within.
The bluegrass performance left me feeling absolutely nothing while my mind grew listless. The evening was wasted, I was always beginning stories with the sole intent to relate to this tribe I had no business being a part of. Every word I spoke to potential friends went either ignored or interrupted by folk who had no interest in any instrument created after 1920. I remembered this before my buddy Andrew introduced himself by decking me on my right temple at a Neurosis gig as he tried regaining his balance. We’ve been friends for years now and rarely go more than a day without trying to one up each other on raw black metal finds.
Charging in with a rolling drum delivered flawlessly by Gonçalo, Victims gallops with the fury of a band of horses racing towards battle. Guitars crescendo and shrink, keeping a steady pace until erupting into a tense fire-like fury. Around the midpoint, the song fades to embers only to be coated with gasoline and exploding to something more engulfed in flame than before. I’m left wide-eyed and impressed on every front.
Guitars crescendo and shrink, keeping a steady pace until erupting into a tense fire-like fury…
Slaves comes in softly and gradually builds in momentum. Process Of Guilt have been jabbing with right hooks pretty consistently and this change of pace displays another angle of their range. The guitars feel so contained before my mind retreats to the first time I watched a lion tamer. Each new chord acts like the cracking of a whip that could be a violent end for both the tamer and those watching. A real sense of dread permeates the nearly ten-minute duration and ease is never felt.
At the bluegrass festival, the mantras ‘you’re beautiful. But no one is beautiful all the time’ and ‘there’s an angel in those strings’ are repeated into oblivion. Real bathtub brewed moonshine and essential oils stain the air of every inch of the festival. I hadn’t related to a single soul the entire time I was there. I felt no shared energy, I felt outcasted and wondered what was wrong with me. I remember this after closing my eyes at a Sunn O))) show feeling myself disappear into a black hole engulfing everyone within a city block of the show. Close friends Tito and Andrew and I laughed while our mantra ‘I never thought I’d stop feeling that way’ repeated until late into the night.
Breathe features a locked in groove that distorts, corroding against a newfound mechanical quality. Featuring additional guitars by Paulo Basílio we see all that rage and bile that’s been assaulting us in a slightly different shade. Upon repeated listens, I realize this may be my favorite track. It’s dripping with so much atmosphere and reverb it feels like the mere length of a heartbeat. A rare feat for a six-minute-long ride.
Starting with a lone strummed guitar, album closer Host soon bends into something tortured and angry. It’s the longest track and takes its time weaving a story clearly influenced by the life of either a virus or parasite. The band stretches and flexes each part setting out to do exactly what’s supposed to be done on a closing track, pouring everything out for a lovely display.
Last May I attended Oblivion Access. Process Of Guilt would fit in perfectly against the roaster of Thou, Mizmor, Hell, and Primitive Man. I met new friends, I was picked up by a complete stranger and thrown against a group during a mosh pit. The man who picked me up is named Tyler and he’s my friend now. You have to look deep within yourself to see your true interests and people knowing when to pick up and move towards where you belong. One piece of work isn’t inherently better than the other, but this is a piece I can jump into any day. For me personally, there’s beauty In Slaves Beneath The Sun that I could never find in a mandolin cocooned in fiddles.
Label: Alma Mater Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
Scribed by: Richard Murray