Review Summary: Bad news for every other death metal record coming out in 2016.
It was one of my New Year's Resolution to be a little more discerning this year when picking through the seemingly endless deluge of dark, same-y metal. You can't throw a rock without hitting a death or doom record with a weird name and suitable grim cover. These records are everywhere, melding into a muddy pit much like the brown sepia artwork that adorns them.
So then why is it mid-January and I'm already breaking my resolution? Well Chthe'ilist are just that good. Their first demo Amechth'ntaas'm'rriachth
(I know) dropped way back in 2012 and the band has slowly amassed a loyal, albeit small following. Not surprising considering that Chthe'ilist managed to do in a handful of rough tracks what most death acts cannot do in an entire career. Full of dread and nightmarish soundscapes the collection of songs set the stage for Le Dernier Crépuscule
, the band's first major outing.
Le Dernier Crépuscule
is a bruiser of a modern death metal record. Everything from the dreary cover to the thick production lends itself to a fascinating piece of metal. The hypnotic mess of guitar and bass reverberate heavily among the abyssal production, leaving the vocals to sound suitably obscured and menacing. It's the type of sound that you could actually use the word "phantasmagorical" without sounding like an utter cunt. For the most part the album is full of surprises. Just when you think that "Scriptures of the Typhlodians" is going to be a Demilich worshiping slog, you're presented with a beautiful Cynic-toned guitar solo. The ethereal chanting found halfway through also adds a subtle bit of character and atmosphere that most bands would have wanked into the ground.
This little bit is emblematic of Le Dernier Crépuscule
as a package. Chthe'ilist take a more reserved approach to a lot a facets of their sound. Creepy gurgling may be heard echoing within a song, only for it to disappear and never to be heard again. These little flourishes and details that give the album so much personality and atmosphere are not over done. No, the band avoids the cheese factor. They don't even throw endless guitar wankery in around, instead opting for the handful of truly impressive moments to stand out. The attention to detail and emphasis on really partitioning the most amazing parts are going to be the unsung parts of Le Dernier Crépuscule
. Chthe'ilist really prove to be masters of their craft with such a fine tuned sense of song structure.
This then leads to what doesn't work. Where the album stumbles a bit is in its homogeneous structure. Each track is a standout. Great, huh? Well, in a way it leaves a lot to be desired. Le Dernier Crépuscule
adheres to a strict formula throughout its run time. Five of the album's seven tracks hover neatly around the seven minute mark, following the script with a bold and eerie opener, pummeling middle section, and closing with a clean guitar climax. There is some change up with this formula, such as the penultimate song having its soloing in the middle rather than the end. For the most part, however, it all progresses about the same.
So again: why is it so hard for me to write Chthe'ilist off completely?
It all comes down to how perfect Le Dernier Crépuscule
comes together as a whole. 2015 was an absolutely immense year for death metal. Originality and boundary pushing were met with equally impressive throw backs and retro resurgences. Yet few, if any, bands felt as fully realized as Chthe'ilist. It's what everyone thought Cruciamentum were, or wanted Triumvir Foul to become. The dark griminess works well with the themes. The production is absolutely sublime. Then of course, is the bass, which is so ***ing delicious throughout that it is worth spinning the album ad nauseum. All of these components come together so well, presenting a complete masterwork of modern death metal than Chthe'ilist's peers could only hope to achieve.
It has come to my attention that I was misinformed about the album's lyrical content. There is no Lovecraftian influence here and I have edited the review to accurately reflect that.