Review Summary: A beautiful darkness to lose yourself in
Right from the beginning of opener “Cult of Starry Wisdom,” a strange mix of sensations defines The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
at large. That is, the feeling that you’re drowning and being crushed at the same time. The slow riffs in the intro are accompanied by vibrato-laden Warrel Dane-esque vocals that somehow add to miserable and ritualistic vibe, but you just know that blastbeats and aggressive tremolo riffing will be there to wash it all away. And soon enough, they do just that. Truly, this dichotomy is what marks the album and distinguishes it from other death metal experiences this year.
However, it’s important to note that the former of these approaches is what really matters in the case of The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
. Simply put, the atmosphere is Thick
with a capital “T.” The slow moments, which are especially prevalent in highlights such as “Yuggothian Spell” and “Thou Shalt Not Speak His Name - The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos” are the sonic equivalent of wading through a vast, thick pool of mud while being pounded down by the continuous aggression of the punishing death metal riffage. And yet, somehow, this all still translates very well to the faster, more blastbeat-oriented moments that juxtapose those sections. The tempo and dynamic shifts aren’t nearly as jarring as you’d expect them to be, perhaps due to the excellent black metal-influenced production that anchors it. The unusual mixing job leads to a sound that’s both gritty and yet somehow beautifully esoteric; in any case, “vast” is probably the best word I can use to describe it.
The band members themselves are certainly up to the challenge of delivering this material too, with a palpable fusion of technicality and brutality that rivals any of today’s progressive death metal luminaries. The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
finds many of its best moments in the “little things” that are used to color and flesh out this sonic world. For instance, the intro to “Veneration of the Lunar Orb” wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without Daniel Dickmann’s flashy drum fills that plow through the main riff and give it some personality. Likewise, songs like “Sinister Sea Sabbath” and “The Summoning of Nyarlathotep” make extensive use of harmonies during their slower moments to provide just that extra touch of melancholy. Speaking of lead guitar, Torsten Horstmann and Andreas Koort do an excellent job of using their neoclassical influences to switch between despair in the slow sections and a sort of sinister Middle Eastern (that is to say, harmonic scale) element in the faster parts. “The Oneironaut/Haunting Visions Within the Starlit Chambers of Seven Gates” (what a title!) is especially notable for those Middle Eastern harmonies, particularly in the fantastic intro.
There is, unfortunately, a certain homogeneity that sets in after a while. If you aren’t listening too intently, things may start to blend together after the third track or so; it also doesn’t help that every song is in the same key as well (though I suppose Terminal Redux
did that as well). As such, The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
gets a tad exhausting as it nears the end of its run. Still, if you give it a listen with the primary intent of exploring its intricacies, it’ll be easy to get lost in its phenomenal atmosphere and rock-solid songwriting. If you consider yourself a fan of progressive death metal or death/doom, don’t hesitate to pick this one up if you see it.