Review of Genesis XIX by Sodom

Band: Sodom
Album: Genesis XIX
Release Date: 27 November 2020
Record Label: eOne
Buy on CD, vinyl or digital: here

Cover of Genesis XIX by Joe Petagno

Cover of Genesis XIX by Joe Petagno

Usually on DCHM we review albums by local bands or those with ties to the area. However COVID has made 2020 a pretty downer year for everyone, including metal album reviewers. When DCHM contributor Vivek’s favorite thrash band, Sodom, was looking for reviewers for the band’s upcoming album I knew he’d be excited at the opportunity to write a review. Several ALL CAPS text messages later he had accepted and the result is this lengthy, in-depth review of Genesis XIX, named after the chapter of the Bible that tells the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you don’t feel like you’re a Sodom expert now, you will by the time you finish reading Vivek’s review below.

In many ways, 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of recent memory. From all of the overwhelming news regarding COVID-19 and elections around the world, there has not been much to look forward to. By now, most people know some of the ways this has affected the music industry from cancelled tours to full-on venue closings. It also has forced bands back into writing mode for records that will be released whenever this pandemic is over. However, some bands have made the decision to release music during the pandemic. Many albums released during the pandemic have brought a much-needed boost of happiness and have provided some bright rays of light to shine through the darkness of 2020. The band whose album will bring the most dazzling and vibrant rays of light to metalheads and thrashers all around the world is none other than the all-mighty Sodom.

Genesis XIX is the album’s title and its only motive is to provide intense, varied, and overwhelming thrash metal. This album shows Sodom are still among the best thrash metal bands active today. The main reason for that stems from how Genesis XIX continues to build on the sounds that made Sodom thrash metal legends. This release also marks Sodom recording a full-length album as a four-piece, the first in their almost 40-year career. The new record will satisfy fans who are anxious about how Genesis XIX holds up to the classic Sodom albums.

Sodom was founded in 1982 in the coal-mining town of Gelsenkirchen, Germany by Aggressor, the first guitar player of the band, and frontman and bassist Tom Angelripper, who is the sole constant member. Sodom began their career playing a primitive and sinister form of speed metal that would go on to influence black metal all around the world. In 1987, Frank Blackfire joined the band and helped them evolve into a thrash metal powerhouse. With Blackfire joining Sodom, the band would reach the peaks of thrash metal and solidify their title as thrash metal legends with the seminal releases of Persecution Mania, Expurse of Sodomy, and Agent Orange during a short timeframe from 1987 to 1989. Once Blackfire left Sodom in 1989, the band experimented with traditional heavy metal, speed metal, death metal, hardcore punk, and punk rock for most of the 90s. In the late 90s and into the early 2000s, Sodom flew the flag of thrash metal higher than everyone else by returning to pure thrash metal with the other seminal releases of Code Red and M-16. During the 2000s and into the 2010s, Sodom began incorporating more melodic and modern elements into their sound. Tom Angelripper still fronts Sodom but Genesis XIX is the first album with lead guitarist Frank Blackfire returning to the band. Toni Merkel and Yorck Segatz are the young newcomers who round out the lineup on drums and rhythm guitars, respectively.


Genesis XIX clocks in at just under an hour which may raise some eyebrows considering that it is a thrash metal album. However, every riff on the album is important to each song and is a kick to the jaw. There are no filler riffs to be found on Genesis XIX. It contains all of the hallmarks that made the Blackfire-era albums so legendary and groundbreaking. The rapid fire-riffage, quick guitar turn-arounds, heavy breakdowns, and old-school mid-paced chug riffs all make a triumphant return on Genesis XIX. The cherry on the top is Frank Blackfire’s exhilarating guitar solos. Genesis XIX also draws from other eras of Sodom and even takes elements from punk and black metal. The album begins with a one-two punch from “Blind Superstition” and “Sodom and Gomorrah.” “Blind Superstition” is a great instrumental track that accustoms the listener to all of the heaviness present on the album, but it also does not give too many details away. The instrumental track also does a great job of maintaining a groove to catch the listener and builds up tension in the best way possible. It’s an old-school trademark, but Sodom utilizes this in the most effective way possible. Sodom also keeps it unique enough that it does not sound like something rehashed from a previous album. “Sodom and Gomorrah,” provides a kick in the face after “Blind Superstition” locks the listener in. This track is a speedy and whipping start to the rest of Genesis XIX. “Sodom and Gomorrah” has a ton of punk elements present in the track, which makes the song feel like something off of Get What You Deserve and ’Til Death do us Unite era Sodom. The punk attitude shows off a factor of diversity while still maintaining the overall vision of thrash metal. The punk riffs get the intense and high-speed aspect of thrash metal off of the ground while keeping the listener anticipating when Sodom will go full on thrash. This is a brilliant way to build tension and keep the listener engaged so that when Sodom switches back to playing pure thrash metal, the listener will go ballistic. “Sodom and Gomorrah” also has some twists as well. The track features a breakdown that is similar to a wall of sound. In that, Blackfire and Segatz build layers of guitar noises while the other plays the riff, Angelripper harmonizes and travels up the bass guitar fretboard, and Merkel keeps the wall of sound grounded with pulverizing double bass drumming. This breakdown is a refreshing change and it is also unique. It enhances the song through the use of the second guitar to add depth to the band’s older sound. While that is something new it does not feel like something modern or brand new. It is a different approach to the sounds that made Sodom famous.

Sodom & Gomorrah lyric video

After this track, Sodom then showcases why they are thrash metal juggernauts. “Euthanasia” is riff-filled thrashing madness. This is one of the shorter tracks on the album, and that works to its benefit. “Euthanasia” is a straight-ahead thrash metal beatdown. It features nothing but mean and pure thrash metal riffage. Each riff on this track contains all of the traits that made the riffs on Persecution Mania and Agent Orange so ferocious. The song has a mean down picked intro that transforms into a classic sounding Sodom riff festival for the rest of the song. “Euthanasia” is fantastic because the riffs in this track have a similar structure to those found in the Blackfire-era albums but have a modern edge to them. This modern take of the classic era of Sodom makes all of the riffs in the song a refreshing listen. For those anticipating an excellent Frank Blackfire guitar solo, the wait is worth it! The way the solo slams into the listener recalls great memories of Persecution Mania. Blackfire shows no signs of age in his soloing and it has perfect flow as well. This guitar solo does a lot terrific traveling throughout the fretboard. The solo for “Euthanasia” reaffirms Frank Blackfire’s ability for fretboard wizardry. It’s a perfect return to form for Frank Blackfire and will crush any qualms that people might have about his return to Sodom. It’s a wonderful resolve for the first tracks and has a good transition into the title track, “Genesis XIX.”

The track “Genesis XIX” was released on the Out on the Frontline Trench EP in 2019 as a teaser for the album. On that version I was not too impressed. I felt the track needed to be faster and I also thought the track was monotonous at times. I was a little worried about how “Genesis XIX” would come out based on this track. However, the album version of “Genesis XIX” improves on every aspect of the previous version. All the riffs and structures on this version are more menacing and the guitar and bass tones are much sharper and heavier. In that, the main riffs that are on the Genesis XIX version are faster and heavier. In addition to that, there are additional bridge riffs that add so much more savagery to the track. If you want to get into specifics, the Genesis XIX version of the title track is 7 minutes and 10 seconds, while the Out of the Frontline Trench EP version is 6 minutes and 42 seconds. The bridge riffs added make a huge difference and that was for the best. The drums are a lot more pounding and aggressive. I love how the main riffs on this track turned out. They have a magnificent flow to them. They don’t feel clunky on Genesis XIX when compared to the Out of the Frontline Trench EP. The riffs combined with the vocals have a call and response feel to them. Again, it takes the traits that made the late 80’s Sodom records so great and gives them a modern update. The riff works with several power chords scattered throughout plenty of tremolo picking and then a several note turn-around. I have always loved this structure because it can be manipulated for any purpose. The solo is great as well, it hits at the moment where you would least expect it and it’s a fretboard whirlwind. Blackfire keeps the solo chaotic but concise enough that the listener can absorb the solo without confusion. The breakdown in “Genesis XIX” is unique when compared to the rest of the album, it has an anthemic groove to it and has all of the elements of traditional heavy metal. This breakdown is an epic resolve for all of the intensity that preceded it. The breakdown also has a dark melody to it which in many ways keeps the listener hypnotized and prepares them for the speedy thrash metal right after. The flow that Angelripper has while the riff plays is fluid and concise, so when the several note turn-around hits, Tom can get some breathing room before providing more brutal vocals. Tom Angelripper’s vocals on this track are much better than the Out on the Frontline Trench version, he sounds more vicious on this version and has a much harsher bark to his voice. His vocals have the raspy teutonic growl to them, but Angelripper does not mind using some guttural vocals as well. It enhances the track overall and provides more depth to the song. Toni Merkel’s drumming makes him the unsung hero of this album. Throughout the album, Merkel provides the drumming to make the riffs have a stronger attack to them. His drum work pushes the whole band forward and makes every aspect of Sodom much heavier, thrashier, more brutal, and more vicious. Merkel shows the best of his abilities on the title track. His ability to jump into a pulverizing double bass drum section from a simple thrash beat is refreshing and something I have not heard in much recent thrash metal. One highlight of this can be found around the two minute and six second mark where the next riff is all chords. His simple, yet so effective, double bass drums underneath the chords pushes the riff and Angelripper’s vocals to their absolute limit. It will stomp out the listener in the best way possible and still keeps them engaged in the song. “Genesis XIX” is among Sodom’s best title tracks.

Friendly Fire music video

The next song on the album, “Nicht Mehr Mein Land,” shows Sodom diversifying their sound from other genres of metal they helped influence. The outro of “Genesis XIX” fades into “Nicht Mehr Mein Land,” however “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” begins with a blasting intro, it catches the listener off guard in the best situation imaginable. This intro is a wonderful surprise and shows Sodom returning to black metal in a thrash metal context. In a lot of ways, the black metal elements in this track are a continuation of the music presented in In the Sign of Evil and Obsessed by Cruelty eras of Sodom. The black metal elements in “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” show an alternate direction the band could have taken if Blackfire had not joined the band in the 80s. The slight return to black metal on this track does a great job of Sodom recognizing the black metal they influenced and using that knowledge to their advantage. The majority of “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” is all mid-paced crunchy riffs that recall classic old-school heavy metal sounds. They have a similar feel to “Remember the Fallen” and “Napalm in the Morning” off of Agent Orange and M-16, respectively. “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” will also go back to some black metal, which is cool because of the contrast it presents to the classic traditional heavy metal riffage that came before it. The song’s ending is somewhat similar to the intro of the song, it has dark elements of the intro, but it does not go full on black metal like the intro does. It’s a wonderful and harrowing ending for a song that catches the listener off guard. This ending is the perfect resolve for “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” as a whole.

“Glock’n’Roll” continues the thrash metal attack, however some of the riffs on this song have a dark tinge to them. It still contains that thrash metal straightforwardness but also sounds evil and malicious. The verse riffs have that same Persecution Mania and Agent Orange feel to them, but they are contrasted by some melodic verse riffs and bridge riffs. The bridge riff in this song is very old school but it works as a transition to the slower and dark melodic riff in one of the verses. This bridge has Blackfire performing a slight lead over a thrashy rhythm section provided by Yorck Segatz. This is a fantastic example of how the addition of a second guitar player has added more depth to the sound of Sodom. It then transitions to the melodic verse. This riff in the chorus is as gloomy as a fog covering a cemetery. Segatz plays the chords, while Blackfire plays a dark melody underneath the chords, and Merkel keeps a somewhat slow to mid-paced groove underneath the guitars to sustain and drive the verse. This verse riff also gives Angelripper an anthemic element to his voice, the listener can’t help but shout along with Angelripper’s delivery of the lyrics,

“You can’t disguise
You can’t escape
Wherever you will hide”

To all of our surprise, this verse riff is a throwback to the Bernemann era of Sodom, the 22 years preceding Blackfire’s return to the band. I was taken aback in the best way possible. Sodom realized the best parts of the previous era and manipulated it for a classic-sounding context. The solo in “Glock’n’Roll” also has the feel of the Bernemann era. Blackfire plays plenty of melodies over Segatz’s backing riff. This is brilliant songwriting from the band that wanted to include diverse elements on Genesis XIX.

Indoctrination lyric video

The rest of Genesis XIX continues the ideas and aggression that were presented in the first six songs of the album. Some of the tracks have varying degrees of punk, thrash, and black metal to them. Overall though, it is still thrash metal to its core. For example, “Dehumanized” has mean thrash metal written all over it, but it does contain several black metal sections too. This similar structure is also found in the final track, “Friendly Fire.” A criticism of that song would be it is too predictable, but throughout the album Sodom have shown mastery of the art of contrast. Whenever Sodom wants to bring in outside elements and different eras of Sodom into Genesis XIX, they bring those elements to enhance the thrash metal riffage and atmosphere in the album. Sodom knows how to utilize these elements without venturing into full on crossover thrash or black metal. They know when there are too many outside elements as well as when there are enough portions from the previous eras of Sodom. Even realizing that there is some repetitiveness and predictability on Genesis XIX, it does not detract from the album overall. It is something that is minor at worst and at best something to keep consistency within the record. Each riff and the amount of times it is played is important for each song as a whole so removing them to reduce the album’s overall length would have been a mistake. The straight-ahead thrashers are found in “The Harpooner,” “Waldo and Pigpen,” and “Occult Perpetrator.” These tracks are all no-nonsense songs that will get a crowd in a non-stop circle pit within seconds. It’s Sodom showing off that they can still write thrash metal better than bands less than half their age. The punk influences peak on the track “Indoctrination.” I’ll be honest when I say: on this track Sodom almost goes full on crossover thrash and even crust punk. “Indoctrination” sounds like an unreleased song from Get What You Deserve. From the intro bassline alone, that appreciation for 80s hardcore is on full display and for some reason it just works. The verse riff has a crust punk sound to it; however, it has a thrash metal structure and delivery. This is something that few thrash bands will do or even approach, so to hear Sodom play thrash with a crust sound to it is refreshing and reassuring to say the least. The breakdown is crossover-like, with Angelripper having a hardcore bark to his voice. The whole track has Tom Angelripper incorporating crossover/hardcore elements to his voice. This track in particular highlights Angelrippers range, I just love how he can do thrash and black metal vocals, but then sound like he sang in a German hardcore band from 80s. It’s a great change of pace and still keeps the listener engaged deep into the album.

Genesis XIX is Sodom’s answer to the abysmal year that is 2020. For a band that has nothing to prove, Sodom have again shown why they are thrash metal legends. Genesis XIX shows Sodom incorporating outside elements, while realizing and understanding the best parts of their past that lead them to the success that they’ve had. Genesis XIX is by far their best album since M-16 in 2001. The return of Frank Blackfire has given the band a rejuvenated energy that has caused Sodom to exceed their high standard of thrash metal. His riff writing and soloing is just as fresh now as it was more than 30 years ago. Blackfire returned at the best time, and this album is proof of that. Sodom have reinvented themselves for the old school and the new school fans in such a unique way. The addition of Yorck Segatz on second guitar and Toni Merkel on drums has provided so much more depth to the band than what was heard in previous incarnations of Sodom. When the pandemic ends and life returns to some semblance of what it was before, the tour for this album will be legendary. I can see people going nuts the entire time for the Genesis XIX songs, right along with the classic material. Genesis XIX is THE thrash metal album of 2020 and will bring much needed happiness to Sodom fans, thrashers, and metalheads worldwide.

Review of Exiler by Construct Of Lethe

Band: Construct of Lethe
Album: Exiler
Release Date: 20 June 2018
Record Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Buy on CD ($10) or digital ($5) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Exiler by Construct of Lethe

Finally getting this Construct of Lethe review up on the site that we’ve had sitting on the back burner for a bit. Vivek wrote this piece about one of the most brutal death metal bands to have ties to our area. As usual you can stream songs at the end of the post, and there’s even some studio footage of the drums being recorded for one of the songs too!

Construct of Lethe is a death metal band based in Woodbridge, Virginia. According to their Bandcamp page, this band is Tony Petrocelly’s band to combine and release music from his previous bands, which are Xaoc, Dead Syndicate, and Betheldeign. Since then, the band has taken its own path. Exiler is Construct of Lethe’s second album after Corpsegod (January 2016) and their only EP The Grand Machination (October 2016). Exiler is a powerhouse that does not let up and has a barrage of twists and turns to keep the listener engaged. Before I discuss the album, let’s talk about who Construct of Lethe are.

Construct of Lethe are composed of the members Tony Petrocelly, David Schmidt, and Patrick Bonvin. Tony Petrocelly handles the rhythm guitar and bass duties, Patrick Bonvin handles the lead guitar work, and the lineup is completed with David Schmidt on vocals. Construct of Lethe recruited Kévin Paradis, of the French death metal band Benighted, to be the session drummer on Exiler. Petrocelly handled all of the recording, mixing, and mastering of the album.

On Exiler, Construct of Lethe showcase punishing and suffocating death metal, while showing off technical prowess as well. Lyrically, it’s a well-developed anti-Christian rant, filled with plenty of Deicide and black metal influenced anti-christian lyrics. Throughout the album, the listener is treated to death metal that is relentless. There is also a slight technical prowess and melody that underlie much of the aggressive death metal attack. This is topped off with Schmidt’s excellent vocal delivery. His voice elevates the music. It’s very much in the vein of Immolation and Morbid Angel.

In “Rot of Augury”, the opening and main riff is mid paced while having a punch to it. It paints an image of an army marching across the battlefield and has a similar vibe to something like Morbid Angel on Gateways to Annihilation. Around the two minute four second mark, “Rot of Augury” uses plenty of blast beats to transition into a more intense second riff. This transition works because of how it grabs and holds on to the listener and keeps the them hooked for the rest of the song. It also has a very good use of pinch harmonics to show off a dissonant riff. This speedy and dissonant riff is great because of how rough yet technical the riff is. The use of pinch harmonics in this riff are very engaging too, they are a cool little flash which keeps the listener attentive to the song. This moves into another fast and chromatic riff that is used as a segue into the lead. It sounds great as a transition into the lead. The lead has a slight melody which makes it good to hear. After this lead, the track goes into the breakdown, which serves as another transition into another lead. The use of a lead to finish the breakdown is smart, it continues the breakdown without giving the feeling of it dragging on. Once after the solo is finished, the song concludes with the main riff.

On the album’s third track, “The Clot,” the Immolation influence begins to peak. This track in particular is where Construct of Lethe show off their technical abilities at their best. From the intro alone, we are treated to a song that has all the anger, brutality, and greatness of something that came out of New York in the 90s. The main riff is a very blasting and harmonic riff, it sounds as if there is a nonstop jackhammer pounding away. It’s fast and right up in your face and has a very powerful kick to it. “The Clot” incorporates a slightly melodic riff as a way to contrast the machine gun-like roaring riff that was done before. The second lead on this track is supported by the intro riff which enhances the lead. It makes it very abstract and surreal. Lyrically, in contrast, this is where the Morbid Angel influence peaks. Especially the Gateways to Annihilation and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh Morbid Angel too. One example of this, “His wings are numbered hexakosioi hexekonta hex.” Another example of this:

“I undertake katabasis to descend to the Hetoimasia
Affliction amongst deities
Crawl from the desert with phulakterion bound to the limb
Regurgitate the schema: listen, hear, do unholiness Sanctify to me!”

Both of these examples show how creative and well developed these blasphemous lyrics are. It’s clear Construct of Lethe know their anti-Christian language and they have no problem spouting such lyrics, even if the listener has no clue what they mean. I looked up the meanings behind some of these and “hexakosioi hexekonta hex” is ancient Greek for 666. It takes the language used by orthodox Greek Christianity for blasphemy. It’s well thought out and delivered.

The vocals provided David Schmidt are excellent and have many demonic elements to them. It’s the perfect death metal vocal style for Exiler. Throughout the album, the vocals provided by David Schmidt, have a traditional, yet very gruff edge to them. There is also a strong “traditional” demonic sound to them. It makes the delivery of the blasphemous lyrics evil and it sounds like they are coming from hell. One example is the track “A Testimony of Ruin.” This is a slower track which helps to showcase the strength of his vocals. Schmidt’s vocals are guttural and have a strong bellow to them. Schmidt is able to inject a lot of energy into each word because of the slowness of the song, it makes the delivery of the lyrics a lot more harsh because the anger in his voice is channeled in full. On “Soubirous,” Schmidt’s vocals are at their most sinister. The listener hears how much of a vile and raspy growl Schmidt can produce which shows off his range as a result. This is occurring on the fastest track on the album. Schmidt’s vocals enhance the music of the track and makes the music even more evil. The vocals on “Soubirous” act as another instrument and really pack an unholy jab to the listener. While on this track we see the heights of David Schmidt’s vocals, on the track “Fugue State,” is where weaknesses are present. Mainly in the clean and spoken word parts of the track. I can understand why the sections where the spoken word vocals are used. That said, Schmidt’s normal voice for these lyrics makes them more comedic than sinister. His normal voice is funny to listen to after hearing all of the growling before. It has a cheesy feel to them and makes the lyrics seem amateur. I laughed at line “I come to the realization that I have in my hand, the head of Jesus fucking Christ.” I laughed even harder at the backing vocal of “Christ.” The clean, spoken word vocals occur for most of the song and bring the song down as a whole. However, this only occurs on “Fugue State” and do not appear on the rest of the album. It’s a hiccup at worst. For the most part, Schmidt’s vocals compliment the riffs and the music enhances Schmidt’s vocals. It is the symbiotic relationship between these two elements that shines very bright in Exiler.

Exiler is one of the best local releases I have heard in a while. It is a showcase in traditional and dissonant death metal, with a touch of technical prowess and hints of melody. Construct of Lethe take these musical elements and combine them with a sinister and bellowing vocal style that puts the tracks into overdrive. Combining all of this with sophisticated and blasphemous lyrical content make this record an ideal example of how death metal is done right. This is a great continuation of what was started on Corpsegod.

Drums recording for Rot Of Augury

Review of Damnatio Memoriae by Grethor

Band: Grethor
Album: Damnatio Memoriae
Release Date: 26 January 2018
Record Label: Edgewood Arsenal Records
Buy on CD ($10) or vinyl ($19) or digital ($10) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Damnatio Memoriae by Grethor

We’re a bit behind on getting some of our local album reviews posted here on DCHM but we’re working to get back up to speed. This one is about an album released by Grethor back in January, but it’s still worth noting in case you missed it. Vivek wrote this detailed piece about it and as always you can stream a few songs at the end of this post to give it a listen.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Star Trek. When I found out there is a local blackened death metal band named Grethor, the klingon word for hell, it grabbed my interest. Albeit, its spelled differently than the actual name, Gre’thor. In late January, Grethor released their debut full-length album, Damnatio Memoriae. Grethor are composed of four members. Marcus Lawrence handles the vocals and wrote all of the lyrics. Brian Frost is on the guitar and Tony Petrocelly handles both guitar and bass duties as well. The lineup for this album is completed with Anthony Rouse on drums. On Damnatio Memoriae, Grethor showcase a variety of complex and simple death metal riffs with varied drum patterns and a strong blend of black metal mixed in as well. Lyrically this album is also varied, there are social issues discussed as well as plain fantasy stories thrown in.

Throughout the album the listener is treated to a variety of riffs that have strong influences from Obscura-era Gorguts and Altars of Madness-era Morbid Angel. Some examples of this include the tracks “The Last Manifesto,” “Enantiodromia,” and “From this Rot so Shall We Be Remade.” There is also an interesting black metal influence throughout the album. Think Deathspell Omega, very avant-garde and using weird elements. Some examples would be in several sections of songs, such as, “The Imminent Unknown” and “Requiem for a Strawman.” While this can go very wrong, Grethor keep all of these factors cohesive. They make sure none of these elements outweigh each other. One track where this is highlighted very well would be the third track, “The Last Manifesto.” In this track, it begins with a complex and blasting intro riff. The song transitions into the main riff, which is a simple, mid-paced, and slightly melodic black metal riff. This is a nice contrast between the more death metal riffs that are present throughout most of the album. Rouse speeds the drums up by using a skank-beat and then everything else gets faster, before transitioning into a more death metal oriented riff. This is a nice transition into the first guitar solo. The solo in this song is simple and effective, it fits the purpose of this part of the song and does not try to do more. The solo isn’t too long or too complicated. The song has a quick breakdown, which transitions to the main riff again, but this time, the main riff is played even faster. The main riff develops more of a melody which, to my surprise, enhances the song and gives it a stronger punch for the listener. Eventually, another solo begins and this time it’s accompanied with complex blasting. This solo is complex and shows off that Luc Lemay influence. It’s a great solo too, it’s complex without being overbearing and is not too fast. The listener can absorb all of the notes from the solo and experience it as opposed to just hearing it. It’s a great way to close a great song. Lyrically, this song is also a rallying cry against many of the common injustices and hypocritical rhetoric that is relevant in society.

Marcus Lawrence, uses plenty of descriptive language to get his message across. It’s simple descriptive language too, which makes his point easier to understand. One example would be in the song: “Embracing Oblivion,” the lyrics “Besieged by a pointless devotion. To one’s own ethnicity. When there is nothing special about you. You must feign authenticity. You value nothing beyond. Your empty desire for validation.” showcase this. In that, they provide a criticism of nationalism and show how such an ideology is flawed. As I mentioned earlier, the lyrical content of the album discusses social issues and other topics. Throughout the album, whenever a political or social topic is discussed, the lyrical delivery of said topics is an interesting blend. It is straightforward, for the most part. It is very descriptive and understandable, while being cerebral as well. It gets me to see another person’s perspective on things. Lawrence also keeps the language in the lyrics broad enough, so that you understand his perspective and it doesn’t become preachy. Both the music and vocals feed off of each other and give the tracks have a strong punch to them. Lawrence’s vocals are a more traditional black metal snarl and shriek. However, there are times when the Lawrence’s vocals become too snarl-like. In that, his vocals are so snarl-like that they sound like an elderly cat screaming at their owner. One example where this happens would be in the song “Tongue of Argent.” These snarls appear at the 1 minute and 17 second mark. When these particular snarl-like vocals appear, they sound so saturated to the point where it is nauseating. Whenever they appear, the overbearing snarls can bring down the section of the song that they are in. They bring down the whole momentum of the song and as a result, it weakens the song as a whole. However, this only happens about two or three times throughout the album, I mentioned one of those times, the other times where this happens are in the tracks, “The Last Manifesto” and “Weaponized Madness.”

Damnatio Memoriae is the most complex local release I have heard in a very long time. It is technical, avant-garde, simplistic, and has hints of melody at times. Despite all of these complications present, Grethor manage to juggle them in a proficient manner. Grethor manages to balance each of these elements giving them the right amount of attention. There is a strong blend of cohesion between the black metal and the death metal elements on this album. Grethor manage to combine these parts along with some direct and thoughtful lyrics, which makes for a very complete and fulfilled album. There are a lot of great moments on this album and I can see Damnatio Memoriae, opening many, many doors for Grethor. It’s a great debut album from a focused band.

The Last Manifesto:

Review of Order Of Torment by Genocide Pact

Band: Genocide Pact
Album: Order of Torment
Release Date: 2 February 2018
Record Label: Relapse Records
Buy on CD ($13) or vinyl ($19) or digital ($10) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Order of Torment by Genocide Pact

Washington DC’s own Genocide Pact has recently released a death metal album that has gotten them quite a lot of buzz. I asked DCHM contributor Vivek Rangarajan to write a review about it and let us know if the band is worth all the hype. After you read his review below be sure to stream the album at the end of this post to find out for yourself!

It made my day when I first heard the news that Genocide Pact was recording a new album as I had been anticipating new material from them for a while now. In the past year, they’ve been on the same bills with Nails, Gatecreeper, Power Trip, and Angelcorpse, just to name a few. They were also the first metal band to play at Atlas Brew Works, during the DCHM 2016 holiday party. Genocide Pact are slowly but steadily becoming one of the best new-school bands in death metal. Their first album, Forged Through Domination, the amount of shows played and tours they have been on have all contributed to this. Their Relapse Records debut, Order of Torment, is a showcase of vile and crushing death metal from start to finish. Before I get into that, I’d like to first discuss who Genocide Pact are.

Genocide Pact are made up of members from local grindcore, crossover thrash, and hardcore bands. Tim Mullaney and Michael Nolan are from the grindcore band Disciples of Christ, or D.O.C., Connor Donegan is from the crossover thrash band Red Death as well as a handful of D.C. hardcore bands. Genocide Pact have recently added a new guitarist, Demir Soyer of Narrow Grave and Perpetuated, however he did not join Genocide Pact until after Order of Torment was already recorded by the other three members. On Order of Torment, Michael Nolan handles the bass, Tim Mullaney does all of the guitars and vocals, and Connor Donegan keeps everything in check on the drums.

“Conquered and Disposed” is the first track on Order of Torment and it showcases the heavy, doom-influenced death metal that is becoming Genocide Pact’s trademark. The opening track does not play around and its intro hits the ground running. It begins with an ambient opening and then punches the listener with a fierce intro riff. There’s an Incantation influence that is evident in the songwriting throughout the album but it is prevalent on on this track. Tim’s guitar-work and vocal performance are great on this song. I love how deep and visceral his death-growl is. The vocals provide a hefty layer which enhances the instrumentation. The riffs throughout this song have a chainsaw-like sound to them. The whole song has a tempo variation between very slow to fast. The tempo variations all have seamless transitions between each other, thanks to Connor Donegan’s drum work. This makes each section of the song stand out from one another.

The second track, “Decimation Grid,” begins with an unnerving and atmospheric riff. I like how this intro riff helps establish how the song will conduct itself. The use of a pick-slide in the intro riff helps make it sound more evil. The song picks up its speed after the first verse, and uses the atmosphere developed to keep the song heavy. What stands out in this song is how Genocide Pact keeps the atmosphere intact while varying the tempos. It’s diverse and interesting.

The third track, “Spawn of Suffering” is one of my favorite songs off Order of Torment. “Spawn of Suffering” is faster than the first two tracks, but the atmosphere established by the first two tracks is not lost. Genocide Pact use a slow intro and transition into a faster and blasting track. This song has some interesting tempo changes between the faster sections. It has a slight change between the blast beats and regular drum pattern that produces a cool contrast. It keeps each part engaging and makes each pattern fresh. The track ends with a mid-paced plug and chug riff. It’s a simple and chromatic riff. This riff feels like a nice ribbon to wrap up the song.

The fourth track, “Pain Reprisal,” is my favorite track off Order of Torment. The Incantation-influenced songwriting is obvious on this track and I love it. The song starts with a mid-paced and filthy riff and keeps it going until the middle of the song. Nolan’s bass work is thick and holds everything together on this track. I love how demolishing Tim Mullaney’s riff is in the opening. It’s a riff I can just head-bang to endlessly. Tim’s vocal performance on “Pain Reprisal” is fantastic. The vocals become very low and growling in comparison to the other songs on the album. There is a John McEntee kind of sound found in Tim’s vocals on “Pain Reprisal.” It is a menacing element that Tim Mullaney incorporates into his vocals on the song and they remind me of a demon haunting someone. The song gets slower as the track progresses, however around three minutes and ten seconds, the track shifts to a blasting frenzy. I love how fast this transition is too. Both Tim and Connor Donegan make this transition perfect. The use of cymbal chokes, blast beats, and double bass by Donegan as well as Tim’s use of palm-muted tremolo picking and faster riffs help the punch of this transition. This transition hits like a freight-train and is an awesome way of changing things up while keeping the listener’s attention. This part lasts for about 30 seconds before changing into a sinister guitar solo to close out the track. This solo is great way to conclude the song because of how it begins as a slower and malevolent solo before it shreds into oblivion while the track fades out.

The fifth track, “Ascendency Absolved,” continues what the first four tracks have already created. However, on this track there are a lot more guitar leads. The leads played are great and they are very doom influenced which makes the track more enjoyable. It is also a nice way of adding a small change without sacrificing any of the heaviness. Towards the end of the song, Tim Mullaney stops playing and just focuses on the guitar’s feedback while Michael Nolan and Connor Donegan keep a steady pace going. This ends with a piercing guitar shriek, it’s an unexpected shriek and I love it. It’s subtle and creeps up on you. Once it happens, the guitar shriek rips right through the listener and is constant throughout the rest of the song.

The sixth track, “Structural Dissolution,” is the fastest song on Order of Torment. The use of a fast intro, and combining it with mid-paced to fast riffs make this a demolishing track. The use of the double bass drums is also great. It enhances the riffs and gives them a stronger punch. They help make the buzzsaw riffage a lot heavier. There’s even a small trill that gets played which fits perfectly in the song. I can just aimlessly head-bang to this song anytime it comes on.

“Authoritarian Impulse” continues the sound developed in Order of Torment while having a doomy solo. It’s a solid track, however this track does what already has been presented on Order of Torment. The final track “Blood Rejection,” is a nice closer to the album. The track continues the atmospheres developed on all of the previous tracks and concludes the album on a chilling note. The conclusion is an evil mid-paced riff that includes a pick slide and pinch harmonic which continues until the album fades out. It’s a haunting ending and an effective way to wrap up the album.

No album is perfect and Order of Torment is not an exception. One fault that I had with this album was how it became too slow at times. There were several instances that droned on too long. When this would happen, the tracks would make me lose interest in them. Some people might consider the significantly slower parts as crushing, however, those parts are simply too slow to have a stronger impact. While I do enjoy the contrast between the slower and faster parts, the slower sections that go on too long begin to drone and bring down the songs. Another criticism I have would be with the lyrics of the album. While the lyrics are not bad themselves, the topics they cover could be more developed. It would give their messages a stronger impact on the listener. These faults don’t detract too much from Order of Torment.

Genocide Pact take their identity created on Forged Through Domination, their first album, and continue it on Order of Torment while keeping it fresh. This album is a great stepping stone for them, and hopefully will launch them into a bigger spotlight. Order of Torment proves Genocide Pact is one of DC’s premiere metal bands.

Pain Reprisal:

Review of Inconnu by Thonian Horde

Band: Thonian Horde
Album: Inconnu
Release Date: 9 September 2017
Record Label: Grimoire Records
Buy on CD ($7) or as digital files ($5) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Inconnu by Thonian Horde

With this post we’re debuting a new album reviewer on DCHM. Please welcome Vivek Rangarajan and read his first post for us, a very in depth review of a black metal album released by a band of guys from local doom metal bands. Be sure to stream a few tracks at the end of the post as well!

This is my first review on DCHM and I was given the pleasure of reviewing Thonian Horde’s Inconnu. This album was a blast to listen to from start to finish, but before I talk about Inconnu, let’s learn who Thonian Horde are.

Thonian Horde is a local band which features former and current members of Weed is Weed, Pale Divine, and Faith in Jane. Most of these bands are based in Frederick, Maryland, and each member is active in the Maryland Doom Metal community, which is a surprise since they are a black metal band. In 2016, the band released a self-titled debut album and in 2017, they released their second album, Inconnu. Upon first listen, one might expect it to be a black metal album with some touches of Maryland doom. However, this is not the case! In fact, Inconnu is a very eclectic blend of black, death, and thrash metal with some traditional hard rock. Thonian Horde’s Inconnu is an album that showcases the strengths of extreme metal while blending it with good-old fashioned rock and roll.

The opening track “Stygian Rhyme” sets the tone for the album and wastes no time doing it as well. Bassist and vocalist, FeZZy, uses cleaner than normal black metal vocals to put his own twist on the typical black metal shrieking vocal style. I love it. This heightens the vocal performance because it shows his identity. The guitarists Dirty and D-Mize provide a well-rounded attack, in that, both guitarists lay down the riffs in a cohesive manner. Dirty holds down the song on rhythm while D-Mize shreds for the lead sections.

While the album is rooted in black metal, Thonian Horde incorporate more styles of metal and rock as the album progresses. As soon as the second track, “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey,” begins, we see Thonian Horde incorporate a traditional rock-groove. While this can be shaky, Dirty and D-Mize do an excellent job balancing the rock groove with abrasive black metal riffage. Dirty does a good amount of lead work in this song and his leads show off the rock influence. D-Mize keeps the black metal rhythms going and keeps the song cohesive. The drum work done by Tyler “The Beast” Lee shows off a balance between black metal and rock. There is a mix of black metal blasting while keeping a rock-groove. It makes the song hard-hitting and groovy. This turns “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey” into a black ‘n roll song at the end. It’s a great one as well. The third song, “Three III 3,” is a more straightforward black metal song. It contains a lot of the gloomy atmosphere that is common in black metal. D-Mize and Dirty put their own spin on this by incorporating a semi-melodic lead that corresponds with the main riff.

The fourth track, “Atrocious,” continues what “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey,” began. It begins with mid-paced bass line which transitions into the main riff of the song. It keeps the black n’ roll ball going as the bass line sets the rock-groove for the guitars to add on to. One thing I’d like to note on this song is how the bass guitar is easy to hear throughout the song. I love it when a song actually lets the listener hear the bass. It is unusual for the bass to be easily heard in a black metal song. Hearing the bass adds another layer to the song which strengthens it for me.

The fifth track, “Helltrain,” is my favorite track off the album. Thonian Horde show off their songwriting abilities with this track. This song combines black metal and hard-rock grooves with some speedy thrash metal. The song begins with a straight up hard rock bass-line, then D-Mize brings some dissonant feedback from his guitar. The song transitions into an excellent black n’ roll riff that Dirty holds down, while D-Mize is doing some spastic and bizarre leads. The Beast’s drumming is at its peak on this song, he keeps the grooves going while everyone is doing their own parts. Around the halfway mark, the song becomes a blasting black metal track. I love how The Beast’s drumming hits the listener like a sledgehammer with this transition. The transition is very subtle, which makes the transition’s punch even harder. Once the blasting ends, the vocal attack by FeZZy howls a powerful scream which shifts the entire song into a thrashing frenzy. The drumming in this part of the song by The Beast uses a slam-dancing beat that’s common in thrash. The use of the thrash beat packs a punch and gives a fast circle-pit beat to enhance the guitarists riffs. D-Mize and Dirty go nuts once the thrash beat kicks in. I love the amount of energy their riffs produce during this part of the song. They also include a headbangin’ breakdown that is common in thrash metal. I don’t usually care for breakdowns in all honesty, but Thonian Horde’s use of a thrash breakdown in the track is great. To end the song Dirty goes nuts in his solo and D-Mize even joins in on the insane fun. The guitarists keep the riffs thrashy, yet the atmosphere and attitude of black metal is still present. The song transitions from a black n’ roll song to a traditional black metal song and finally to a blackened thrash song, and I love it. I can see a vicious circle pit breaking out whenever they play this song live.

The sixth track, “The Eleventh Dream,” is an atmospheric instrumental track. The song has a melancholic bassline that repeats throughout the song. On top of that it contains a lot of eerie sounds that evoke a feeling of misery. It’s a track that is nothing but suffering and dread and it feels as if someone has died and we are seeing what life is without this person. “The Eleventh Dream” is a great cool down to all of the madness going on for the first five tracks.

The second half of the album continues the black n’ roll while adding elements of extreme metal. The tracks that do this great in the second half of the album would be the title track, “Inconnu” and “Organized Oppression.” “Inconnu” is more rock influenced than anything else, however, there are sections that are traditional black metal. One thing of note during this track is there is a good amount of melody in the song. I like their use of a melodic section in this song because it makes the more straightforward parts sound more abrasive by contrast.
“Organized Oppression” is a more straightforward black metal song. There is a slight melody throughout each riff which adds another layer to all of the blasting going on behind the drum kit. The song eventually becomes a blackened thrash song with some melodic elements to it. The song concludes after an energetic guitar solo by Dirty.

This is not a perfect album and there are some faults to be found. The vocals could use less reverb on them. They make the vocals seem artificial and the lyrics lose their meaning because of it. In addition to this, the last track, “Iris Effect,” does not have as much variation as the other songs have. It uses a simple riff to carry the album to the end, and the song is very mid-paced throughout which makes it hard not to lose interest. It begins to drone. Inconnu has a few problems, however, they do not detract anything from the overall experience.

Overall, this album is a fantastic local release. Thonian Horde show off how diverse their songwriting ability is. The incorporation of hard-rock grooves and melodies, combining that with black metal and other forms of extreme metal, make this one of the more varied albums I have heard in a very long time. If there is any album that I regret not putting on my favorites of 2017 it is definitely this album. Inconnu shows that there is a lot more to the Maryland scene than just doom metal or grindcore. If Thonian Horde can follow this map they have created for themselves, then I think they can make a big splash at the national level. Who knows, they could be a part of a great tour package. For right now though, their future is bright.


Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey: