Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Church of Disgust - Veneration of Filth (2016)

Veneration of Filth is an album that deserves credit for sounding just like it looks. The Putrid Matt black and white artwork promises a morass of abominations, a death metal Swamp Thing, and musically these Texans have arranged their sophomore to provide exactly that; a punishing exhibition of old school ugliness which eschews complexity for balanced, barbaric nostalgia. Much as you'd pore over the pages of antiquated horror comics to connect to those morbid fascinations you'd recall from your youth, you'd ride this tunnel of rot to reflect upon those great records of yesteryear which might have initially frightened or repulsed you if you were even open to their gruesome potential in the later 80s or early 90s: Slowly We Rot, Scream Bloody Gore, Consuming Impulse, Mental Funeral, Realm of Chaos, The Dying Truth.

Church of Disgust celebrates this legacy, and wears its influences on its tattered sleeve, but doesn't do so through sheer laziness or lack of inspiration. While it's true that a lot of the tunes here are centered on slower, predictable grooves that we've all heard before, they excel at adorning them with disheveled melodies or eerie harmonies that elevate the experience beyond something you can just easily delegate to that cardboard box of CDs you'll never listen through again. The band is also quite good at picking out samples or using feedback and ambient noise to inaugurate a track and thrust you directly into the cinematic atmosphere which influenced it. When they pick up their pace, they move at an intestine churning clip redolent of old Bolt Thrower, just a hint of the grinding that informed that old, unpleasant British death metal. When they neuter it, they perform pretty well in a lurching death/doom territory where you can envision their cover creature tramping through the muck and devouring some unwitting victim...not a sad sort of doom, just evil beyond ken.

The nihilistic barking growl of Dustin James hardly stands out in such a crowded cemetery of guttural icons, not particularly vicious or memorable; but it's appealingly raw, blunt and to the point, a cousin to the styles of Chris Reifert and Chuck Schuldiner, but not quite so dripping with guts or oozing with viscera. The bass sounds pretty cool through the album, especially when they fatten it with some effects as in "Sunken Altar of Dagon" which is joined with roiling feedback for one of the record's creepiest moments. As I was listening, I felt like the drums, while raw and potent, were a bit overboard in some places where the double bass was battering and drowning out the remainder, but some won't view this so much as a flaw since it encapsulates the very primal DIY approach this group is taking. The themes here are ripe with cosmic or earthly horror, a clear streak of Lovecraft influence, especially the corruption of Mythos beings upon the flesh of mortals, and musically they do a pretty decent job of incorporating that into the music itself. Some of the more cookie cutter chord patterns are a little too obvious, but overall Veneration of Filth promotes some of that fear it celebrates, which is more than you can say for many records of its ilk.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]


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