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Satanae Tenebris Infinita

Dark Descent (2013)
Rating: 8/10

Hard to believe that Imprecation, who hail from Texas, have been around since the early 90s, but it’s no surprise that their long awaited full-length debut album is a smoking old school death metal mini-masterpiece.

The quintet have certainly been through the mill since their 1992 Ceremony Of Nine Angels demo, but now they’ve made it with Satanae Tenebris Infinita, a nine-track journey into the depths of fiery hell, bolstered by Dave Herrera’s raspy bellows and those almost sludge-laced doomy riffs courtesy of Adumus duo Danny Hiller (aka Archfiend) and Milton Luna (aka Moon).

I’m not really sure why it’s taken Imprecation so long, but the 15-year hiatus from 1995 to 2010 seemed to have signalled the end of this death metal act. However, like one of those partly decomposed zombies in so many of today’s undead films, Imprecation have wrenched themselves from their dormancy and Satanae Tenebris Infinita is really an album to be proud of.

As a death metal album this is very much a no thrills affair that simply relies on baseball bat drums from Ruben Elizondo (aka Vomit; Adumus), crushing bass from David Ramirez (aka Cerberus; also of Adumus) and simple yet effective dynamics, bereft of gimmicks, to make this one helluva heavy experience.

The album opens with the churning black waters of ‘Blood Dominion’, a track that is at its most evil when it slows to an almost gloomy pace. Herrera sounds as if he’s had too many nights swallowing barbed wire such are his hoarse yet chesty bellows. The guitars for the most part are at the low end, give or take a few flailing solos to interrupt proceedings, but the drum sound is the winner here – its plod something akin to a sodden corpse being thrown up against a wall.

‘From Beyond The Fiery Temples’ sees the band find a squalid middle ground between the UK’s Bolt Thrower and that archetype Floridian sound which made death metal so popular at the tail end of the 80s and early 90s. It’s such a shame these guys weren’t part of that scene because judging by this opus they would have quite easily stood their ground. Just a few spins of this black little record had me thinking of Incantation, and some of the even older, grimmer sounding death / black metal acts like Blasphemy such was the primitive structures within.

The likes of ‘Chapel Of Rotting Flesh’, ‘Rancid Blood On Blackened Thorns’ and ‘Of The Black Earth’ are extremely foetid numbers, boasting ominous riffs and some of the best lyrics I’ve heard for quite a while. It’s no wonder these guys are considered a cult combo, because the music on offer here is delivered in such a devastating fashion and it reaches its climax on the closing ‘Carrion Winds Of Golgotha’.

Satanae Tenebris Infinita is the sort of album you’d imagine getting your clammy hands on back in the late 80s on some grubby demo. The guitars are so potent yet unholy in their basement quality, the brooding atmosphere evoking descriptions of subterranean domains of ill air and graven imagery.

Imprecation’s debut opus comes highly recommended to anyone who likes their extreme metal very heavy, and reeking of that vintage air – proof that even today, amidst the modern technology, bands like this can exist and still make an impact that is far greater than so many pretenders.

Neil Arnold

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