Denigrata – Missa Defunctoram

a2391662954_16

Formed in 2014, Denigrata (who hail from the Midlands, UK) are an avant-garde black metal collective, focused on pushing the extreme metal genre with what they call ‘noire concrête’. Self-released début album Missa Defunctoram is based on Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor and is sung in Latin, consequently it’s no surprise all members came together through higher education music degrees. Mozart’s requiem was composed as he was dying, instilling a suitable motif of morbidity to their unique twist on black metal.

There is such an amalgamation of components that form their overall sound; as such it’s quite a difficult album to take in.  There are transcendental and industrial sections, along with sweeping guitar melodies, pneumatic drill kick drums and a combination of screamed and operatic vocals. Switching up between fast, ferocious onslaughts and icy, macabre atmospheres, it’s unpredictable and at times a total head fuck. Call me old-fashioned but much of it represents unintelligible, chaotic noise.

The more stripped back sections however show greater promise; ‘Kyrie Eleison’ features a down tempo guitar melody, with a haunting piano in the background and sorrowful screamed vocals layered with the operatic style, which is beautiful. Where the album digresses for me is the forcing together of so many different elements, ‘Confutatis Maledictis’ and ‘Requiem Aeternam’ in particular are directionless and confusing. The operatic vocals work in parts and not in others, but seem to get in thrown in anywhere regardless. The more transcendental atmospheric sections on the other hand are cohesive and resonate far better. ‘Rex Tremendae’ begins with a stunning haunting and almost ritualistic ambience, and a prime example of how the operatic vocals can be so effective when placed correctly.

Their commitment to creating something distinctive is commendable, however it comes across too convoluted and the more simplistic aspects that work a lot better are engulfed by the surrounding chaos. Whilst the meeting of musically academic minds may seem like such an advantage, it often over complicates ideas, which is unfortunately reflected in Missa Defunctoram.

 

5.0/10

 

HEATHER BLEWETT

Black Tide – Chasing Shadows

Black Tide chasing Shadows

There are a plethora of super young bands being scooped up by big labels left and right lately. Remember that when weighing the merits of wunderkind types, you need to judge slowly. From Mozart to Louis Armstrong, Sinatra to Little Stevie Wonder, Tori Amos to Jason Becker, Fiona Apple, Devin Townsend an now Adele; the bristling energy of a talented prodigy can make hearts pound. Recall that except for Adele, they didn’t have to deal with trolls on current social media who have neither talent nor any nurturing it seems. Since forming ten years ago Floridians Black Tide broke out with their explosive début Light From Above (Interscope), and they blew up as fast as their riffing little fingers were moving. In the years passed they have dealt with changing times, changing members, and a back biting scene.

However, the story does not end here and the arc of Black Tide’s career does fade out yet. Founder Gabe Garcia and longtime guitar partner Austin Diaz have matured past the Trivium-esque neo-thrash of their début and the active rock of Post Mortem to make an interesting mix of all those influences and much more. Chasing Shadows (Pavement Music) sees the band come into its own and becoming comfortable with uncomfortable: adulting in this cray decade.

When Chasing Shadows rocks, it blazes hot. After a dramatic classical intro ‘No Guidelines’ just rips. There is a confidence to match the talent now that has seasoned into form. Thrash, heavy metal, harmony guitar solos, great singing: all in the kitchen sink of well written songs. ‘Angel In The Dark’ has a faint hint of a pop-rock chorus, but doesn’t lose the script of a ballsy rocker. ‘Predator (Animal)’ is the best song on the album. Gabe and Austin are super talented shredders and when the band lets their inner Iron Maiden loose, you are sure to smile.

There are other worthy gems on here such as the title track, the stellar ‘Before We Form’ and the epic thrash closer ‘Promised Land’. There are some missteps too, and despite some competently performed balladry the band will always fall nearer to mid-era Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine than Shinedown or Seether. Nothing wrong with that at all by the way.

7.0/10

KEITH CHACHKES