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Drouth – Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy Award winner

Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy
by Colum Hill at 23 August 2020, 9:11 PM

DROUTH are a Black Metal band from Portland, USA. Formed in 2012 as CONTEMPT, they played Black Metal with considerable Hardcore Punk and Sludge Metal influences on their "Skinwalker" EP. Changing moniker to DROUTH in 2014, they went on to release one EP ("Vast Loathsome") and then their debut album ("Knives, Labyrinths, Mirrors") a couple of years later. "Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy" is their sophomore album, released with Translation Loss Records in July 2020.

The album opens with "A Drowning in Sunlight". It begins with a bleak opening riff that sound like they are about to lend themselves to a depressive dirge, when suddenly chaos erupts and we are dropped headfirst into manic riffing, blasting drums and hysteric rasps and cries. Matt Stikker handles lead vocals, combining higher rasps with mid-range Black Metal rasps and the occasional low, beastly growls. "A Drowning in Sunlight" has a swirling intensity to it, as it alternates between big, grandoise, atmospheric riffs – melodic and expressive – and chaotic blasting sections where the riffing gets more sharp and violent. The song builds and builds, incorporating slower, almost gothic sections as it climbs.

"An Apiarist" opens with a sole guitar playing a melodic, angular riff, before galloping quickly into a fast-paced drive with a savage riffing style that bats back-and-forth between violent and dramatic. The song builds up to a melodic break part way through, with a ghostly, spectral quality – the lead guitars really get chance to breath here. The lead guitar really plays a key role in "An Apiarist" and guitar solos are prominent. The song continues to build as it gathers momentum through different sections, each evolving logically into the next, sometimes mid-paced and dramatic, sometimes blasting and chaotic.

All of the songs have a very “narrative” structure like that, as though they are telling stories. There are a wide variety of tempos and even moods per track, but nothing ever feels forced or out of  place. The transitions are very clean and natural and the way that the songs build is very impressive and clear evidence of not just well-seasoned musicians but experienced songwriters. The melodies are gripping and complement one another as the songs build, and the drumming is very involved and characterful. The vocals, versatile as they are, don't play much of a lead role – they often take backseat to the driving drums and guitars.

It's hard to make comparisons to other bands, but the atmosphere is definitely reminiscent of old Scandinavian Black Metal. The more chaotic sections remind me of a less abstract and less avant garde DEATHSPELL OMEGA, while the grand, dramatic riffs remind me of old CRADLE OF FILTH but without any of the overtly “cheesy” elements. I'd definitely recommend this to fans of Black Metal in general – the songwriting is strong and memorable, the musicianship and production are sound, and the album flows really nicely. Don't be put off by the track lengths – these songs are not drawn out dirges that you often find in atmospheric or depressive Black Metal with few riffs and little variation. On the contrary, the compositions are rich and varied and there is a lot going on in every song. "A Crown of Asphodels" is probably the most straight forward track at six and half minutes and is also the least interesting of the bunch. It's the long, detailed compositions where DROUTH really shine.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. A Drowning in Sunlight
2. An Apiarist
3. O Time Thy Pyramids – An Unfinished Nightmare
4. A Repulsive Act Shrouded in Flesh
5. A Crown of Asphodels
Matt Stikker – Guitars, Vocals
John Edwards – Guitars, Vocals
Tyler Wolfe – Bass
Patrick Fiorentino – Drums
Record Label: Translation Loss Records


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Edited 12 April 2021

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