Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coffin Texts - Gods of Creation, Death & Afterlife

Coffin Texts - Gods of Creation, Death & Afterlife
2000, Dwell Records

So Dwell Records, famous now for their proliferation of tribute albums ad nauseum, to almost every band imaginable that you could think would somehow deserve a tribute album (and some that surely don't require more than one, but the gimmick works for them so they're running with it!), has initiated their conquest of the regular label business with the release of two death metal records. One is the new album from The Chasm, free now from the needlessly obscure Mexican label Oz Productions (who are great at promising, time and time again, to send promo CDs but never following through - the true art of underground labels), and this record before me, the debut album from a Los Angeles-based death metal band called Coffin Texts (a rather unwieldy name, but who cares?). I am guessing that just calling their band 'Hieroglyphics' wasn't brutal enough - that or some German goth band beat them to it. Just in case you don't get all the ramifications of their name, the front cover has a sarcophagus covered with script superimposed over a background detail of Egyptian writing. In any case, this is a standard late-90s millenial death metal album, and all the elements that go into making traditional grinding death are here: the heavy over-distorted guitars, the rapid click pulse of a blast-influenced drum style, the hoarse guttural moans and screams, the addition of almost random synth work in certain spots to increase the 'atmosphere' (the next best thing to cutting in samples from horror movies), etc. Fans of this style of metal will not be disappointed.

I was wondering how long it would take for labels to grab other Egyptian-themed bands after Nile's enormous success over the past two years. Because this is a promo CD without a lyric sheet I can not say for sure that this band is as obsessed with all things out of Cairo in the same vein as Relapse's favorite sons, but the artwork alone on this disc makes me suspicious. There is not much here other than the guitar sound and the art that points to Nile - the guitarist(s) have a dissimilar style. The best thing about this album are the slow, doomy parts of the songs (3:55-4:45 on the third song, 'Revengeful Entity' is a good example of this feature of Coffin Texts' sound - something I would really like to hear more of from death metal bands in the future) and the esoteric, rambling soloing. At this point in my life, blast beats really just don't do it for me anymore. In the end, though, does it matter? This album stands up for itself by being an adequate first release, and I am sure the band, if they stay together, will only improve on it later. This also includes a very precise cover of Slayer's 'Crypts of Eternity' (this is a Dwell record, remember) that is probably the best song on the album...it's hard to top the masters, you know, and when all is said and done I'll take real, original songwriting over blasting 'brutality' any day...