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The Descent - The Coven of Rats Award winner

The Descent
The Coven of Rats
by Ofer Mashiach at 28 March 2017, 8:45 PM

I've got to admit it - Melodic Death Metal has always given me a hard time. Why, you ask? Well, the answer is twofold. First, the overall attitude of this genre has always seemed presumptuous to me – an attempt to be considered among the "big boys" of Death Metal on one hand, and not actually qualifying as such, in terms of vibe and sound, on the other hand. If we're already at that, it has always sounded to me like a very ballsy Power Metal with advanced song writing, which could probably do better with clean singing.

So, as you have probably realized by now, Melodic Death Metal is not my pint of ale. Of course, that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed with the ingredients I find appealing. And that leads to me to the "The Coven of Rats", the sophomore offering by the Spanish band, THE DESCENT, which is more the exception rather than the rule.

So, what separates THE DESCENT from the hordes? To begin with, their embracive sound is slightly thicker than the characteristic sound of the genre. Secondly, they manage to sound brutal and classy at the same time, squeezing artfully abundant elements into their relatively short songs without being messy and without niminy-piminy antics – it all comes off quite naturally. Some good choices made in here make the album as enjoyable as it gets. They don't seem to follow any certain formula and their multi-faceted approach delivers the goods by paying careful attention to details. Obviously, they can do a lot of things but I didn't get the impression that they were trying to prove anything – it's just that sort of what-you-see-is-what-you-get complacency that does not compromise their performance a single bit. They appear to be jacks-of-all-trades that take care of business with the right dosing and balance in terms of both performance and musicianship.

The album begins with an orchestral piece, led by a piano, that builds up the tension until "The Warrior Within" kicks in with its groovy main riff and spot-on drumming. The track is fast with very brief breakdowns that are rather interludes than a "thing" by itself. The gang chant in the chorus is a bit out of place, but it is engaging and will probably become a favorite in live shows because the audience can join in and sing along. The singing is varied throughout, ranging from high-pitched growls to gutturals, with occasional vocals effects and gang chants. "New Millennium Spawn" begins with chimes that sound as if taken from a horror movie and they soon give way to a strong Death Metal riff, showing the true DNA of the band combined with nice guitar licks and a cool solo. The occasional electronic sections weaved into most songs are very brief and do not divert the listener or diminish the metalocity of the band. Another noteworthy track is "Seeds of Madness" with the rapid changes of pace and the epic atmosphere.

The final track, aptly named "Omega," is an atmospheric and dramatic piano and orchestra instrumental that helps you chill out and recover from the stirring experience this album provides, so you can return easily to your peaceful daily routine. The nearly 43-minute duration of this album elapse very quickly and leave you wanting more. It's a sure thing that THE DESCENT is on the highway to stardom.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Alpha
2. The Warrior Within
3. Falling from Grave
4. New Millennium Spawn
5. The Coven of Rats
6. At the Foot of the Monolith
7. Dead City Gospel
8. The Times Stronger
9. Overcome
10. Seeds of Madness
11. Bitter Game
12. Omega
Borja "Taj" - Guitars
Charlie - Vocals
Ander - Guitars
Xabier Del Val "Txamo" - Drums
Iñigo López - Bass
Record Label: Suspiria Records


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