Label: Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Review by Sythanagon
Teitanblood’s sophomore album, Death, was said upon announcement that it would “correct the misconception about death metal being music”. At first, I found it an interesting notion to hail, and not one that I completely understood…until I heard the album. For those who don’t know, Teitanblood is a Spanish metal band that blurs the line between death metal and black metal to create some of the densest metal in the modern scene. Taking cues from the pioneers of old, Teitanblood is pushing the boundaries of death metal in its most primitive form—no diluents, no adulterants; solely progressing metal within metal. And that’s something I can stand behind.
Left, right and centre, bands are looking back in time to the “old-school”, to the pioneers of extreme metal and emulating their styles. Rather than following in the footsteps of where modern metal is going, bands are more and more flocking behind the idea that retro is where it needs to be. Now, to put Teitanblood among those bands isn’t entirely justified. Whilst the band does base its sound out of original extreme metal movements, it’s progressing them in new ways. The extremity, the caterwauling noise, the sheer force and power being pushed through these instruments creates an idea, an ideal. Death isn’t the sum of its parts, it’s all one combined whole. It’s organic, textural, visceral. Teitanblood isn’t just another bestial war metal band, it takes that unrelenting aggression a la Conqueror, the miasmic vocals of Blasphemy, the atmosphere and off-kilter frenzied guitar work of Portal and it combines into one completely natural and flowing piece of earthen madness.
I’ve yet to hear a band in the bestial black/death metal style to have such a perfect production job. Oftentimes these types of bands will have production to suit their style: that lo-fi, extremely undercooked presentation that leaves the music sounding raw and all over the place. I don’t think a band has really gotten it as right as Teitanblood has here on Death. When they need to be, the guitars are impenetrable walls of noise: just pure riffless and texturised dissonance. It’s not exactly overwhelming; it sounds right. It’s addictive, it’s an experience other bands will try and offer, but with the togetherness and earthiness of the production here, it’s unmatched anywhere else. And when it needs to, the album features groove, riffs, balance, and harmonic atmosphere that gives more meaning to the noise that just completely encoffins the listener. The track ‘Cadaver Synod’ is one that has this style down pat. From the rolling wave of noise, chants and voices that arise in the intro, out comes an absolutely monstrous three-part riff that revels juxtaposing a doomy groove and a tremolo picked atonality. The fast-paced hi-hat and bass drum beat that moves alongside it makes it all the more satisfying. From riffs, to noise, to completely discordant soloing, this track brings forth an unforgettable experience that swallows the listener whole.
Altogether, the natural cohesiveness of the production job highlights all the album’s qualities without being too undercooked or too overdone. It makes the music almost tangible, its weave unbreakable. And in this way, Death does correct the misconception about death metal being music—this isn’t music. This isn’t just a few riffs slapped together with a couple of blast beats and some growls. This is a tangible experience, this is togetherness. You can feel it in the ambience; the air about the music, it has no colour. Close your eyes and it doesn’t conjure images of hellfire. This is death, it’s solidarity, continuity, it’s structured and it’s unrelenting. This record doesn’t feel like another death metal album, another black metal album. It has an aura of order and disarray. It’s a natural progression for death metal, black metal, and metal music as a whole. Pushing the boundaries, it blurs the lines not only between genres but where the music and the ideal meet to become something else entirely. This isn’t the plastic, over-produced mess of modern metal. This isn’t the glorification of death, dying, gore and perverse fantasy.
This is the Origin of Death.
This is the Graves of the 80s.
This is the Blood Upon the Altar.
The cancer that ravages the bodies of the weak from the inside. The sheets in the hospitals that can’t wash out the death of the thousand hosts they’ve harnessed. The ruination of nations. The sepulchral monuments to which the bodies lay buried. The rituals of sacrifice. The cults of lives stolen. The genocides of peoples. The dolmens of the ancient, unheard of and enigmatic lost peoples who had succumbed to life’s inevitability before our time. The confrontation of everything that has and will be drawn to an end. The breath of life given to dead bones—the learnings from those passed and the monolith of their impression. The silence, the cacophony, the burial, the pyramids, the temples, the sky and watered earth, the petrichor that rises from old graves. The nails and hair that grow long after the flesh has decayed.
This is death metal.
This is Death.
mortui vivos docent