Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Death Penalty - S/T (Album Review)

Rise Above Records
August 11

The songs:

1. Grotesque Horizon
2. Howling At The Throne Of Decadence
3. Eyes Of The Heretic
4. Golden Tides
5. Into The Ivory Frost
6. Children Of The Night
7. The One That Dwells
8. She's A Witch
9. Immortal By Your Hand
10. Written By The Insane

The band:

Michelle Nocon - lead vocals
Gaz Jennings - guitars
Raf Meukens - bass guitar
Frederik"Cosy"Cosemans - drums

Never thinking Gaz Jennings would stay away from music completely when Cathedral called it a day, I didn't expect this from him though. Oftentimes the first "solo" release by long serving band members are schizophrenic and incomprehensive at best, but not so with Death Penalty. Having brought in three Belgians: Michelle Nocon, vocals(Bathseba, ex-Serpentcult), Frederik"Cosy"Cosemans, drums(Serpentcult, Hedonist, Hemelbestormer) and Raf Meukens, bass guitar, was a very wise move. Not only are these three excellent performers, they also helped turning Death Penalty into a fully-fledged band instead of it being only a project.

The instrumental opener 'Grotesque Horizon' leads me to believe I have a full-blooded doom release in my hands but I couldn't be more wrong. Instead, when 'Howling At The The Throne Of Decadence' kicks in, I am treated to a fantastic mix of early Iron Maiden and Witchfinder General. It's fast, heavy and brilliant. Michelle is like a banshee moving back and forth between soft almost whispering singing to belting it out. Slightly slower but still an excellent heavy metal song, 'Eyes Of The Heretic' showcases a blistering solo from Gaz as the song picks up in pace. Switching to bonafide doom on the occult 'Golden Tides' the band is in your face with some fantastic work from Cosemans and Meukens. 'Into The Ivory Frost' continues in the path of 'Golden Tides' keeping things doomy and bleak. Beautiful!

Oh yeah! 'Children Of The Night' is a slow and punishing monster of a song. Mainly doomy in it's approach the latter half of it is hypnotic with an excellent guitar solo running through it. Bewitching, deranged and captivating, 'The One That Dwells' comes across like a seance before launching into a heavy-ass Mercyful Fate/Candlemass mode. Amazing folks, absolutely amazing! A slow, sinister and lurking riff-fest 'She's A Witch' is captivating and mesmerising until halfway through. Then the band kicks into higher gear and turns the song into a breathtaking neck-breaker only to slowdown at the end. Damn! Purest and finest form of heavy metal that you will ever hear. I'm talking about 'Immortal By Your Hand' and this is by far my favourite song on 'Death Penalty'. The whole band is on fire taking no prisoners at all. Michelle sings like she is possessed...amazing! The album ends with the beautifully 70's heavy rock inspired 'Written By The Insane'. There are some amazing Iommi riffs in the choruses while Gaz again pulls off a couple of blistering solos.

Having taken their name from the Witchfinder General album by the same name, the band nurtures this influence as well as any other influence they have. You hear bits and pieces of different bands but as greatly blended they are with the band's own amazing ideas 'Death Penalty' is a fresh and unique addition to the world of metal. More bands should take inspiration from them how to be themselves and be creative. This is an excellent debut that promises so much for the future!

Written by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Rise Above Records for sending us a promo to review. Death Penalty - S/T - will be available to buy from Rise Above Records from August 11th 2014. Vinyl Record will be released in Sept 2014.

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