Council of the Fallen - Deciphering the Soul
Season Of Mist
Death Black Metal
11 songs (37'45")
Release year: 2004
Council of the Fallen, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Dualism is good when one describes complexities of nature. Light is both a tangible particle and elusive wave. By the same token, dualism is not good when we think of a person and his/her multiple disorders. Is it good in metal, however? The answer is – it depends on how well it is done. Council of the Fallen latest Deciphering the Soul is the prime answer of excellent genre blending and mixing the best of both worlds, death and black metal in particular.

Council of the Fallen came onto my radar screen with their debut Revealing Damnation. Having members of both Broken Hope and Hate Eternal I was afraid that the admirable debut will be a once-and-done type deal, a side project at best. However, Kevin Quirion and Sean Baxter managed to continue to have a good thing going. As good as the debut was Deciphering the Soul is head and shoulders above it, and an album that should get these US extreme metallers noticed.

Depending on how you look at it, Deciphering the Soul fuses power and tightness of death metal with atmospherics of black metal, or propels black metal chaos with sinister wickedness of its death metal cousin. The boundaries are blurred, the vocals mixed and … there is no single weak song on the album. Songwriting complexity at least doubled, production quality tripled, this album draws in like a magnet prompting many listens for a receptive ear.

Longing for Clarity starts feverishly only for the death train to gain momentum and, after a clear melodic section, to plunge into a meaty Kataklysm-style riff. Norwegian atmospheric tremolo speedy delivery crashes midway through Acceptance in Silence to yield to a twisted solo and even some clean vocals. Given all this variety nothing sounds out of place, and everything seems to have a purpose, either it is a steady melodic Vikingesque riff of No Vision of Prophecy or Slayer style opening thrash attack of Scourge of Thy Enemy. And we certainly should not be surprised when vocal section a la high Vintersorg appears because of all kinds of atmosphere in the kingdom come blasting that preceded it in Distant Memories. Tempting Angelic Pride showcases extremely powerful crossbreed between Hate Eternal and Kataklysm and then unexpectedly breaks for an acoustic section supported by violin of all things. Guitar crazy Morbid Angel influenced track Repetition Breeds Insanity dovetails into another dark, acoustic and sensual Outro. Trey Azagthoth could not have been prouder.

With music treading on just about every extreme metal turf vocal attack follows suit (or is it leading the charge?) Sean rumbles his way through in a very guttural manner (there is something from Steve Tucker in him), while Kevin shrieks and high pitches. I used the word “duet” on my previous review for this band, and it is quite appropriate, even though the guys rarely sing together (No Vision of Prophecy probably is the song where conjoined vocals make the most appearance). Sean and Kevin simply complement each other and their music with their vocals. Unlike Amon Amarth and Kataklysm where the same vocalist does both high and low, Council of the Fallen keeps it separate and distinct. This album, on top of everything, even gives a glimpse of Sean’s clean vocals, no Vintersorg of course, but very respectable.

While Sean and Kevin are the driving force behind Council of the Fallen, the rest of the gang contributes mightily. In the absence of Derek Roddy Tim Yeung (ex-Hate Eternal) bashes the skins, and Shawn Ohtani provides the contrived solos in addition to engineering. Eric Rutan’s production is what most certainly takes this album over the top. It is crushingly heavy, punchy and very clear, although I wish Kevin’s shriek would be just a little higher in the mix.

If you are tired of same old-same old death metal, and want to spice things up without compromising the heaviness and extreme delivery I want to recommend you Council of the Fallen. Young, talented, not restricted by foolish self-erected boundaries, this band is what is good about death metal moving forward. Just like that dualistic nature light I have started my review with, this band will be hard to stop.

Killing Songs :
Longing for Clarity, Acceptance in Silence, No Visoin of Prophecy, Scourge of Thy Enemy, Distant Memories, Tempting Angelic Pride
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Council of the Fallen that we have reviewed:
Council of the Fallen - Revealing Damnation reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
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