Friday, May 21, 2010

Nephasth - Immortal Unholy Triumph

Nephasth - Immortal Unholy Triumph
2001, WWIII Records

Let's be honest here, when it comes to the new style of Brazilian death metal, all these bands are, at one time, or another, just referencing Krisiun. Rebaelliun are starting to break out of that mold now (their latest, Annihilation, is an above-average record, really listenable), but the rest of the bands following in the wake of the insane Kolesne brothers still have a very heavy debt to pay off before they can break into more original, open water. When one band launches itself into the world scene and makes a name for itself (who toured more than Krisiun over the last few years?), the groups that follow up the ladder behind their lead often have this problem: witness Vader and Behemoth and the rest of the Polish scene, for example. This is not to say that Nephasth have a problem handling their instruments, or that they lack talent. Their playing and overall sound is immaculately polished, almost too clean and tight in certain places. I prefer my death metal with a little rawness. That's beside the point, however...this band can fall into stale derivation, but they can also soar when they just put their heads down and lock into a massive groove, a sustained, anthemic blast. Now that Krisiun stumbled and dropped the ball with their last album, Ageless Venemous, it's young bands like this that are going to rush in and try to steal the limelight. While that album, Krisiun's massively disappointing opus I mean, mainly suffered from a lack of originality, insight, depth (it's difficult to write really well-orchestrated, multi-layered material when you only have one guitarist, and when you're on tour for most of the year), and an atrocious production, this album here suffers in turn from hero worship. Serious hero worship. It's useless to try to go into direct specifics about Nephasth's sound or their style because, at this point, Krisiun and Rebaelliun own the patent for it. Let's describe it instead, as it appears everywhere: constant double bass and little rolling fills on the part of the drummer, clean triggered isolated kick triplets, the usual, guitar parts that revolve between pounding power chord breaks and minor-chord enhanced tremelo-picking that sounds at times like the "atonal" eerieness of Cannibal Corpse, extremely lean, muscular muted rhythms, staccato (always exactly in line with the drummer's snare) short riff segments, and ethereal, outer-space soloing. The vocals change over the course of this album - if you really pay attention, it'll be mildly diverting for you, but usually they sound just like Camargo: that harsh, hoarse, monotone bark and growl. As for the bass, I can't even hear it. Nothing out of the ordinary there! If only more death metal bands really knew how to take advantage of the added dimension strong bass playing adds to this kind of music!

Maybe what separates this unholy gathering from others like Abhorrence is their more traditional-death metal influences, the way they also reference (like I was saying above) American entities. I don't know. To be honest, I have to stretch my listening abilities to their utmost powers of analysis to hear differences in these Brazilian bands. It's actually remarkable, if you think about it, how close these groups sound to each other. How is that even possible? I like this band, but...after thirty-odd minutes of blasting and similar riffs even the most hardcore Brazilian fanatics will probably be feeling a little jaded, their eyes clouding over, their ears numb...

And so I'll finish this review the same way I finished the one of Severance that I wrote earlier this morning: it's a good band, they have obvious talent, I just wish it was a little more original. Oh well. Let's see what they can come up with next time.