Monday, November 1, 2010

Weapon - From the Devil's Tomb (2010)

Weapon is one of several 21st century extreme metal bands that has adopted a reinvigorated approach to their medium, through a close examination of the constituent elements that carried it bloodied and screaming to the fore from the imaginations of its troubled pioneers. This is done through a careful writing process, its focus ever upon a cascade of darkening riffs that will not only sear the senses of the listener with aromatic, occult nostalgia, but offer a compulsive reason to listen back. This is no monotonous blast fest, but a dynamically woven journey through the warmer, ritual climes of black and death metal, drawing as much from old Morbid Angel, Deicide and Vital Remains as it does from Bathory or Mayhem.

The production of From the Devil's Tomb alone is a marked improvement over the debut effort, Drakonian Paradigm, not to mention the actual craftsmanship of the guitars (though to be fair, its predecessor was partially culled from the band's earlier demo and EP material). "From the Devil's Tomb" itself serves as vanguard, with 2 minutes of slower, majestic fare before the eruption of a blitzkrieg of drums and guitars that unfortunately seem to lose some of their luster the faster the track moves. Vetis Monarch's vocals are an extremely blunt tool, faint traces of syllables being barked out in a custard of abyss phlegm, and I'm not sure they offer much in the way of enunciation or variability to complement the guitars, but they seem suitably dire, and he often off-sets them with a more grunted tone.

Of course, there are far better songs than this opener lying in wait, as soon as the more eerily threaded "Bested in Surplice and Violet Stole", which seems to dance across a sensuous, basting fire before its warlike bombast arrives like a platoon of charging hell hounds. "Furor Divinus" starts with a brief, Slayer-like rhythm that soon blasts off, while "The Inner Wolf" serves as a collision of writhing, black/thrash and an epic visage delivered courtesy of a pipe organ segment and diabolic leads. "Lefthandpathyoga" is proof of some 'sensitive side' within the band, or rather their ability to create a compelling atmosphere through a melodic instrumental without coming off trite against the harsher environs, and "Sardonyx" is arguably the best of the album, where its Eastern intro and bridge collide with some raging guitar work that never ceases to provoke a particular foreign charm. "Trishul" and "Towards the Uncreated" also offer their share of thrills and atmospheric chills.

Weapon are perhaps best recommended to the fan of those black/death metal bands rooted deep in their inherent mysticism: perhaps Absu, or the great Melechesh serve as worthwhile comparisons, while the more intense, brief batteries here might border Angelcorpse territory. I found this sophomore far more satisfying than the debut, but there are still a number of riffs and sequences that don't manage to stick, and at times the music would be better served by more vicious, memorable vocals, as opposed to the bludgeoning indifference that often steers these off track. Otherwise, From the Devil's Tomb is a competent affair, with solid lead and drum work, and its share of hellish, if not ultimately inspiring guitar riffs, and alongside Begrime Exemious they stand as one of the better hybrid extremities coming out of Canada today.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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