Review Summary: old school death metal done right
Messiah was a Swiss death metal band formed in the mid 80’s. Strictly, it was not formed as a death metal band but a thrash/death hybrid characteristic of the time (around 1984 to be accurate). However, by the time Choir of Horrors
was released, the band had already developed their purest death metal sound, only taken further on their following release Rotten Perish
Choir of Horrors
is a very nice example of the old school death metal sound done properly, not without a few special features that make this album a particular one. Drawing obvious influences from the most extreme thrash acts (like Slayer) and the early and the emerging death metal scene (early Death especially), Choir of Horrors
is arguably the most coherent release Messiah album until the moment it was released. One of the first things to notice is the clean and balanced production. Now, this makes the album a lot more listenable, and the guitar tone is very solid and crushes nicely on the ears. Plus, the band introduces some keyboards and acoustic guitars on their songs, and the good production job helps it fit properly within the mix, something that is not always achieved in the genre.
Heavy and catchy riffs are delivered in good proportions, especially on certain songs like Choir of Horrors
and Weeping Willow
. Guitars are the strongest feature of the album. However, after going through the whole listen, some parts can sound repetitive and detract from the general experience of the album. That being said, there is hardly ever a dull moment on the record, and the acoustic passages or additions, like on Northern Command
are certainly enjoyable too. The rhythm section divided between bass and drums are nothing too special, but they do not take away the focus from the good song structures. Vocally, the album is solid too, the vocalist delivers typical yet comfortable growls that are not too harsh and are reminiscent of Chuck Schuldiner’s first albums with Death.
So, Choir of Horrors
is certainly a pretty strong old school death metal release, with some progressive twists and exemplary production. The only big fault the album has it is that is not very memorable except for some songs like Choir of Horrors
and Northern Command
, and it can feel a bit samey as you delve into it. Definitely worth the listen, especially considering that Messiah would certainly improve on their sound and create perhaps their best and standout album, Rotten Perish
, only one year after this one.