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Devangelic – Phlegethon

by Jon Conant at 02 December 2017, 1:37 PM

Well well well, what do we have here? No, seriously, does anybody know what the fuck we have here? DEVANGELIC is described by many as a “brutal death metal” band, but I’d like to submit a new genre name for them: Brutal Chaotic Black Metal. This stuff is all over the place, I’m not sure if the guitars are death or thrash metal, the production value reminds me of black metal, the vocals are on another level of guttural, and altogether this feels like a wicked mashup of everything that makes metal, well, metal. DEVANGELIC previously released a full length in 2014 and then some demos and an EP in 2015 and 2016 before presenting us this year with their latest full length, “Phlegethon.” Say that fast 5 times. This album is as dark, monstrous, and as anti-religion as it gets, featuring lyrical themes from Dante’s Inferno. I absolutely love that, but I would love it even more if ANY of the lyrics were discernable in the vocal tracks. Honestly, these are some of the most guttural and unintelligible vocals I have heard in a long time. Maybe I am just a hater, maybe I just don’t get this kind of metal, but I was not a fan.

The instruments were what they were, but honestly I got absolutely nothing out of the vocals, and I am a total sucker for brutal harsh vocals. The concept felt really cool, and as soon as I saw the song titles and found out it was based on The Divine Comedy I was stoked, but sadly I was faced with disappointment in the overall delivery of the album. “Plagued By Obscurity” kicks off the beginning of the album, which is a healthy 11 songs long. Now this track does something I am really a big fan of, and I think shows maturity in songwriting, and that is it provides an intro transition. Atmospheric sounds fade up to the wild drums and thrashing guitars that you are going to hear over and over for basically the rest of the album. It is heavy, it is intense, and it makes no sense. Do I love it? No. But I also don’t think I’m supposed to. Clearly, DEVANGELIC is shooting for more of an art piece here, as opposed to an album that commands regard as an achievement in music. I will say though, the vocals are awful. Just bad. I understand what they’re going for here, guttural low vocals that are softly mixed in a tribute to true black metal, but DAMN are they unintelligible. And with an album that boast lyrics pertaining to Dante’s Inferno, one of the most badass pieces of poetry in existence, I would have hoped for some semblance of a story without being forced to read the lyrics. But, oh well…

“Condemned to Dismemberment” without a doubt has some of my favorite guitar work on the track. Purposefully poor production value and harsh vocals aside, some of this stuff shreds. And the drum work is absolutely nuts, if you’re up for wild cymbal work you’re going to have a great time. “Decaying Suffering” is possibly one of the more intriguing tracks on the album, because we find it moves into a bit more of a structured tech death sound than the rest of the album. The riffs are even more chunky and segmented, the vocals are even more guttural, and the drums move as fast as ever. The drums are possibly the highlight and best part of this album. We’re seeing the band display a lot of technical skill, which is really cool. And while I get why they want to bury that beneath layers of wild production (they’re staying true to their style) it is still unfortunate.

The album closes off with a cover of “He Who Sleeps” by MORBID ANGEL. DEVANGELIC still retains their signature sound on this track, but it proves to be the most different on the album, which was to be expected. Here they slow things down a TON and pound through the cover, laying way to some of the more death metal focused riffs on the album. On the rest of the tracks the guitar works feels more thrash. I think my biggest gripe with the album when it’s all said and done is the vocals. The guitars, bass, and drums were all mixed to be true death/black metal, and it sounds dark, intense, heavy, and really kind of awesome. But in order to tie that all together, you need an anchor for the sound, in the vocals, so it doesn’t dive into chaos (unless chaos is what you specifically want, and DEVANGELIC just might). The vocals really fail to tie the sound together, and instead just add another layer of confusion.

All in all, this album is NUTS. I don’t know how to sum it up other than to say just listen to it if you want to experience it. This stuff is so art based and sub-genre specific that everyone is going to have their own interpretation. It’s hard to objectively assess music that is purposefully trying to make you feel uncomfortable. You are in for a TON of insane drum work, more tech/black/death metal riffs than you can handle, and intensely guttural vocals. If anybody wants to know what it means to stay true to metal and not give a shit what the mainstream thinks, DEVANGELIC just gave you an answer.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 3

2 Star Rating

1. Plagued By Obscurity
2. Mutilation Above Salvation
3. Of Maggots and Disease
4. Malus Invictus
5. Abominated Impurity Of The Oppressed
6. Condemned To Dismemberment
7. Wretched Incantations
8. Manifestation Of Agony
9. Decaying Suffering
10. Asphyxiation Upon Phlegethon
11. He Who Sleeps (Morbid Angel Cover)
Paolo Chiti - Vocals
Mario Di Giambattista - Guitar
Damiano Bracci - Bass
Marco Coghe – Drums
Record Label: Comatose Music


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