Review: Proscription ‘Conduit’

Death metal is at absolute saturation point in 2020, and quantity absolutely does not equate to quality. With their roots stretching back through the likes of Maveth, Lantern, Hoath and the like, Proscription‘s members have been at this game a lot longer than many, and will probably still be knocking around when the bandwagon hoppers have cleared off. So does this clear affection, and understanding, of their chosen style elevate Conduit to the upper level of bands currently swimming in the blood red death metal tides?

While it’s certainly light years ahead of some of the mindless pummellers, or almost parody  ‘Caveman’ nostalgists, lurking in the DM sphere currently, the harsh reality is that Proscription are currently workmen, rather than craftsmen. Efficiently performed and delivered, though the songs on Conduit don’t really catch fire in a way music that’s supposed to be hellish should.

It starts promisingly, with the introductory orchestration of Four Wings Within The Samiel giving way to the thunderous assault of I, The Burning Son, a knife throwing whirlwind that pitches their proverbial tent nicely between the camps of prime Morbid Angel/Immolation deathliness and the more approachable hinterlands of NoEvDia modern black metal. Red Sacrament Black Communion then continues the battery with a surge of triplet blasts and a similar commitment to all out attack.

But that pursuit of intensity begins to lose power with each subsequent song, and by the time they finally decide to invest some real dynamics in the form of To Reveal The Words Without Words, it feels like the album has passed you by without leaving much in the memory. The fundamental difficulty that Proscription (and in their defence many other bands in their sphere) face is that the songs are a little too samey, and over the course of an album the attention starts to wander as the uniformity of it all sets in. Is it dark and heavy? It sure is. Is it engaging? Regrettably not.

If you want traditional death metal that doesn’t challenge, there’s certainly plenty for you here…

There’s nothing terrible here musically, which makes it all the more frustrating. It’s all precision and polish and the songs are structurally sound. All the boxes are ticked, down to the Christophe Szpadjel logo and requisite reverb on the vocals. They understand and respect the tradition they come from, which is to be admired, but the problem is that their passion is unfortunately not delivered with any sense of adventure. Everything is in the same key, with the same inexpressive vocal approach, and while the riffing is certainly above average, there’s little of it that lingers once the album is over, even after multiple listens.

For all I know Proscription could be absolutely terrifying Satanic outlaws that you don’t want to get on the wrong side of in real life, but does this come across in their music? It does not, and the spark of madness, or menace, the best death metal has just doesn’t seem to fully ignite.

If you want traditional death metal that doesn’t challenge, there’s certainly plenty for you here, and my gut feeling is that stripped of the (slightly too) clean production, these songs could work much better in the live arena where their sheer force might demand the attention, and the undoubted conviction these four men have for their music, would connect more viscerally.

Conduit is an enjoyable enough listen and has no shortage of promise, but ultimately feels strangely conservative rather than the provocation it should be.

Label: Dark Descent Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Jamie Grimes