Shroud of the Heretic - Revelations in Alchemy
Blood Harvest Records
Death Metal
7 songs (41:18)
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Charles
Shroud of the Heretic are an extreme metal band from Portland, with a hand-drawn logo that looks a bit “nature-y” and who introduce their album with running water sounds. But this is a bit of a misleading way to start a review of Revelations in Alchemy, because musically there are no connections with Agalloch, or any ‘Cascadian’ bands, etc. Instead, this is primitivist death metal, albeit with strong blackened elements, of a very grisly kind.

The opening chords of Arrival stop and start like cudgel hits, before picking up into a very slow, very weighty riff. It is a great one, as well: balancing funereal harmonies with hints of stonerish sway (in this sense reminding me of the excellent Vulgaari). The sound here is a defining characteristic; crackling and fuzzy, and that, combined with the tempo- make it feel rain-sodden. It works particularly well on tracks like the sour Iluminism, with its foul riffs given a weirdly flowing feel by the tribalistic percussion.

At times it can be thuggishly simple- the slow grooving on Chaotic Astral Ascension, for example. But, it can also get scarier, with a lot of black metal elements piling in, and in this sense I’d draw comparison with another great, overlooked band, Ghast, who have mastered the balancing of gruesome death metal tones with shrieking black metal aggression. Heretical Screams is a good example of Shroud of the Heretic moving towards something similar, but, here, these elements later give way to a procession of gravelly thuds, like a more thuggish take on Altars or Mitochondrion. Anyway, this is pretty convincing as a first full-length album.

Killing Songs :
Arrival, Illuminism
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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