Chapel Of Disease – Summoning Black Gods review
by James Hibbert
Old school death metal (OSDM) has become something of a catchphrase in recent years, a term descriptive of a relatively consistent onslaught of contemporary bands employing a sound and approach to the genre of death metal reminiscent of it’s late 80’s and early 90’s pioneers in a more often than not genuine and authentic manner. As with any sub-genre experiencing a flood of popularity there comes a surge in the output of current bands alongside the formation of new blood and, with this, a hell of a lot of mediocre and forgettable material. Of course wherever there is shit, gems will shine. 2011 saw the releases of bands such as Mitochondrion, Sonne Adam, Necros Christos & Disma deservedly making plenty of well-respected end-of-year lists and forging through into 2012 the trend continued. Germany’s Chapel of Disease released at the beginning of 2012 their debut recording, a demo under the title “Death Evoked” which was soon followed up by a split with fellow countrymen Lifeless and lastly, in the winter of the year, their debut full-length “Summoning Black Gods”; a thrashy, energetic and captivating affair.
From the very opener and title track the listener is reminded instantly of early Asphyx and Pestilence as the piece alternates between it’s aggressive, fast paced, tremolo picked passages and it’s more mid-tempo, lamenting and sombrely atmospheric alternatives. Narrated by the spectral and heavily reverberated Van Drunen-esque barks of front-man Laurent Teubl in combination with the album’s crunching guitar tone and archaic recording quality the result is a genuinely ancient sounding and passionate, if a little derivative, listening experience. Indeed the second track “Descend to the Tomb”, a real high point for the release and a song which passes through catacombs of classic death metal worship into a monumental verse led by soaring lead guitars before lastly plummeting into energetic thrash riffing leads instantly on to the third track, “Death Spheres”, the album’s most derivative piece – and almost criminally so. Wearing your influences on your sleeve is one thing but there is a fine line between paying homage to and engaging in plagiarism of. The song’s first riff is almost note for note consistent with the first riff of “Nightmare” by Sarcofago and the similarity really is stark. Having said that and despite this being perhaps the only proper negative for the release, the song swiftly progresses towards new territory by it’s mid-point and is nonetheless an enjoyable listen. What this brings into question, however, is why listen to contemporary OSDM when it’s all been done before and so successfully that even today newcomers to the genre are digging out and enjoying old relics? In the case of Chapel of Disease at least there exists a youthful vibrancy and energy that is hard come by and the result is an album that is from beginning to end consistently engaging and enjoyable. Besides, “Death Spheres” carries the listener straight into the album’s fourth track, “Evocation of the Father”; another high point for the release that is potentially the album’s most well crafted and tasteful piece. Indeed, despite the ‘unoriginal’ and ‘non-progressive’ nature of Chapel of Disease’s approach to their respective genre, the band does not fail to impress because of the tastefulness of it’s songwriting. There is something very authentic about “Summoning Black Gods” and rather than feeling like a cheap imitation of that which it was inspired by, it instead feels like a respectful hearkening back to the glory days of Obituary, Death and Morbid Angel – even with it’s flaws.
The very nature of the OSDM formula almost guarantees that those who abide by it limit their own potential by comparison to the influence of classic bands but why should that matter when the end product is of an undeniably high quality? It is for this reason that the question of the sub-genre’s legitimacy in the shadow of the 1990’s is so often void when posed in the direction of bands who know their craft, and Chapel of Disease certainly know their craft well.
Chapel Of Disease on facebook.
Chapel of Disease hit the UK for 5 dates with Occvlta starting on the 29th January in Bristol and winding up at a killer 7 band line up in Newcastle on 2nd Feb. Check the Chapel Of Disease metalgigs page for all dates.