Thanatos - Undead.Unholy.Divine.
Black Lotus Records
Death Metal
11 songs (40'11")
Release year: 2004
Thanatos, Black Lotus
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

Here is the record that languished in my pile for quite a while as I wasn’t able to develop pro or con feelings towards it. But as someone was clamoring the lack of real death metal reviews (not melodic death variety), I thought I could give Thanatos a couple of more listens.

This band from Netherlands (whose moniker means ancient Greek god of death) stood on the verge of cult status, was ready to extend their hands into bigger time, but eventually pulled back to less known underground lands. Formed in mid 80s and having released two records in 1990 and 1992, the band went through some tough times and eventually disbanded in 1992 … only to be resurrected in 2000 with Angelic Encounters, which is where I first ran into them. Just like the band itself, I was not going bonkers over that album. Four years later we have Undead. Unholy. Divine.and if this album on Black Lotus label (which signs way too many dissimilar bands) doesn’t bring Thanatos to the edge of greatness, the prospects may not look so bright after all.

Stephan Gebedi (vocals/guitar) gets all the credit for bringing Thanatos back to life and most of the music on Undead. Unholy. Divine. The band’s credo on this album seems to be diverse and technical death metal. The album never becomes superbrutal, in terms of speed, riff heaviness or vocals ascending as if from the grave. Instead, just about every song features the variety of tempo shifts and multiple vocal lines. In addition, the songs differ from each other greatly. Having complex song structures consisting of several distinctive parts may be producing multiple climaxes, but also inhibits the album flow, causing mind restarts, so to speak.

Thanatos really refuses to settle on a particular style throwing at a listener Sinister-like riff fest in the opening of Lambs to the Slaughter, melodic jackhammering of Swedish tinged Slayer in the title track, piano introduced B-horror flick feeling of blackened thrash Beyond Terror and grinding doom of The Sign of Sadako. This is not to say that the latter can’t build all the way up to the robust blasting, or something that starts blastbeating (Servants of Hatred) can’t slow down and head in the opposite direction. Sometimes such shiftiness distracts as I would want to hear more of the Bolt Thrower-like meaty riff in Eraser, instead of atmospheres that creep in. On the other hand, the straightforward militaristic march (Devour the Living) is aided by carefully woven in melodic hooks. I would love to hear the band explore more of this direction, when the same riff/melodic sequence travels across the tempi planes.

One thing is definite - death metal of Thanatos is vibrant and never stagnates. To diversify further the band carefully chooses the place for leads, often opting for the blaring chaos of Melechesh (Lambs to the Slaughter, Servants of Hatred), but once in a while heading in the trusted melodic Iron Maiden direction a la Dismember (Godforsaken). Stephan’s vocals are probably on the cleaner side, if you consider many other cookie monster singers, and the production itself is cleaner showcasing the musicians’ considerable technical skills, rather than hefty downtuneness.

I feel the quality in Thanatos death metal, but if you are not a particular fan of the band it takes a while to absorb Undead. Unholy. Divine. Those couple of more listens certainly raised my opinion of the album, but did not let me completely proclaim this the death metal album of the last couple of years. With all of the excellent shredding and killing riffs there is still a tad too much of overanalysis in Thanatos, and not enough of songs that would grab and not let go. At least it looks like the band stuck around this time and there is another album on its way in 2006.

Killing Songs :
Lambs to the Slaughter, Undead.Unholy.Divine., Godforsaken
Alex quoted 71 / 100
Other albums by Thanatos that we have reviewed:
Thanatos - Justified Genocide reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Thanatos - Angelic Encounters reviewed by Marc and quoted 77 / 100
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