Review Summary: A furiously crushing aural assault
A lot of Diocletian’s listeners would have been captivated by the artwork on their third full-length release, ‘Gesundrian’. Depicted on the cover is a knight on horseback, sword drawn, bounding over what appears to be a sea of human skulls. The extended artwork shows a hanged man just behind the knight, with a burning city in the background. It all seems rather apocalyptic; a fitting cover for the equally morbid nature of the music itself then. Clocking in at a total of thirty-five minutes, Gesundrian serves as a kick in the balls coupled with a hook in the jaw. There is nothing pretentious here, and it appears Diocletian only aim to create chaotic, violent and pissed off blackened death metal.
Tremolo riffs are used to great effect on this release, and add character and substance to otherwise typical death metal-style guitar work. Every time a tremolo riff bursts through, such as in ‘Wretched Sons’, it is easy for the listener to picture the knight on the front cover, charging mercilessly towards the enemy, hellbent on causing absolute mayhem, teeth bared and sword drawn. The brilliantly chaotic progression in ‘Summoning Fear’ perhaps typifies the extremely aggressive nature of this record.
The drums are also a vital part in creating this vibe. Blast beats are often used and work well with the guitars to create the destructive vibe. Having said this, they also serve somewhat of a hindrance on occasion, as at times they feel slightly overbearing. Of course, a natural drawback from prioritising anger and general heaviness over technicality is that the instruments tend to get mixed in with each other, creating an often-undecipherable wall of sound. This can lead to the album feeling monotonous in places, as it feels like the Auckland-based quartet are pummeling the listener like a ton of bricks carelessly rather than methodically. The monotony displayed here could also be due to the fact that the songwriting is fairly consistent, although the penultimate track ‘Beast Atop the Trapezoid’ breaks the cycle of monotony in places with its brooding, doom-laden outro.
Vocalist Logan Muir is also a vital piece of this nihilistic jigsaw, his excellent lyrics accentuated by his raspy, malicious vocals. The aforementioned song ‘Beast Atop the Trapezoid’’ is a perfect demonstration of this, vitriolically screaming ‘I am the selfish god you cannot defeat’ during the doomy outro. This creates one of the album’s most memorable moments, and is the perfect embodiment of the vision in which Diocletian try to create.
Simply put, Gesundrian is possibly the most furious assault on the ears to have been created this year by any band in any genre. If you like death metal that pushes boundaries and has something innovative to offer, perhaps you should give this a miss. However, if you like crushing, nihilistic death metal, and you appreciate a damn good riff when you hear one, then listen to this immediately. Perhaps if this pushed the envelope just a little more with regards to songwriting and originality, this would be up there with the best death metal releases of the year.