Denial - Catacombs Of The Grotesque
Asphyxiate Recordings
Death Metal
9 songs (43:15)
Release year: 2009
Asphyxiate Recordings
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

It’s rare these days that you get truly original Death Metal, most bands content to slavishly copy one of the past greats, and being fair to them there are many that do a great job of it. Yet if we’re being honest you can count the number of great Mexican Death Metal bands on one hand, and whilst Denial aren’t going to be outselling Cannibal Corpse anytime soon, the fact remains that they’ve created one of the best debut albums ever to come from a band this grimy. Formed only in 2006 and boasting the drummer of Cenotaph and Shub Niggurath, Denial play a style of music that feels like it’s been excavated from the slime-filled grave where the best old-school Death Metal goes to die – imagine a mixture of Bolt Thrower and Demilich, channelling the spirits of ancient gods and simply assaulting the listener with the Lovecraftian-fuelled darkness.

This is one of the most ominous and atmospheric albums to come from the Death Metal sphere in a while, the riffs weirdly sludgy and in the background, the vocals vomitous growls that seem aimed directly at the listener, the distant keyboard effects melding seamlessly into the lava pool, the brutal music not so much crushing as suffocating. What really makes this impressive is the way that the album constantly shifts beneath your feet, the sudden soloing of Abominable Undead changing to an Asphyxiating howl of pain from vocalist Marko as the guitars send pulses of strangely catchy yet completely horrific melody. Few bands could pull off the introduction to Immense Carnage Vortex so well, hellish screams from trapped souls that soon changes to a brutal beatdown, and this expertise runs through the album constantly. The perfectly-placed solos, the excellent production, the varied and technical drumming, all seem designed to make Catacombs Of The Grotesque as disturbing a ride as possible.

The best way of summing the experience up is to view the album art, a twisted demonic being rising above the black-cloaked priest that summoned it – that sense of epic wrongness, the thing that should not be, the calling of Cthulhu all referenced here as the music bends and turns and your mind is filled with horror. It’s even more impressive when you realise that as well as being a dark trip through Lovecraftian terror, Catacombs Of The Grotesque is also a kickass Death Metal experience, the sludge-filled riffs often catchy in some sick way, the songwriting absolutely flawless. Whether it’s the melodic start of What Lies Beneath, soon giving way to a torrent of slime, or the unnerving lurch of Inhuman Incarnation, there’s not a weak moment on the album. It’s an intense, exhausting listen, satisfying in a way that Melodic Death Metal will never understand, and is an early contender for the top-albums-of-the-year list. Hunt it down!

Killing Songs :
All, especially Remains, Abominable Undead, Immense Carnage Vortex, What Lies Beneath
Goat quoted 88 / 100
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