Tuesday 19 February 2019

Prophets of Yahweh - Oronodromozro (2019)

Country: India
Style: Progressive Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date:
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | YouTube

India isn't a country most of us would generally associate with extreme metal, but apparently there's a growing scene there, led by established bands like Eccentric Pendulum, Undying Inc. and especially the blackened death of Demonic Resurrection, who have five albums out and have played Wacken and Inferno. Metal Archives lists 69 active death metal bands in India and they haven't even added Prophets of Yahweh yet.

Googling the band's name doesn't help much. Apparently they were formed back in 2012 and this album took them six years to record. ReverbNation lists a few band members but I could only find one of them mentioned on their Facebook page, so that may or may not be out of date. Regardless, there's no vocalist mentioned and there are clearly vocals here. All we really have to go on is this album, which is fortunately a strong debut.

I'm not even sure why they call themselves Prophets of Yahweh, again not the sort of band name you might expect in a country where 94% are either Hindus or Muslims. Maybe it's because the stories of Obadiah and Jezebel in the Bible are notably metal. Obadiah was a majordomo in the palace of Ahab, the King of Israel, whose Queen, Jezebel, wanted him to shift the worship of Yahweh, the Iron Age god of Samaria, to a fertility god named Baal. When she ordered the prophets of Yahweh to be massacred, Obadiah chose to hide a hundred of them in a couple of caves. Jezebel was later thrown out of a window where her corpse was eaten by stray dogs, while Baal faded away into extreme band names such as Baal Zebub or Intestine Baalism. I'd listen to the Obadiah/Jezebel concept album!

I have no idea if this is that concept album, though there's clearly a mystic aspect to the affair and the apparently invented title (with the suffix of "The Holy Spell") works well in the endless mandala on the cover. The title track, which kicks things off, has a droning ritual vocal but I don't know if this is meant to represent the worship of Yahweh, Baal or just the crushing metal riffs to come. The sound is dense, whether the band play fast or slow and the vocals are low in the mix, all making this sound as influenced by black metal as death. Oronodromozro evolves into a guitar chugfest with almost bell like melodies, so there's a lot going on in under six minutes.

There's a lot going on in the remaining half an hour too. What seems wild to me is that the melodies, presumably courtesy of lead guitarist Jithin Peter, remain relatively consistently patient throughout, even though the rest of the band change pace constantly, from ploddingly slow to brutal hyperspeed. Exodus, for instance, starts slow but keeps on speeding up until the drums become so fast that I'm wondering if the unknown drummer invented the triple or quadruple bass technique. Either that, or it's a drum machine.

I found the album as a whole to be an exercise in texture. There's a real array of styles on show here, from the brutal approach on No More to the thrashy early parts of WW3 and the black metal wall of sound in play on Exodus. Each of these has a different texture because of that, though the tracks still play consistently together.

To my mind, the most interesting track here is the last one because it has the most texture. That's Lucid Dream which is appropriately named. It has the most exotic feel, not merely because of the fascinating and often minimal drums but because the vocals become an instrument and the guitar takes the lead role, repeating motifs almost hypnotically. It's spiritual and meditative even though it's utterly in your face, which I think is a neat trick to be able to pull off.

This is an interesting album. I think it would have benefitted from more variety in the vocals, such as the addition of a clean or even a female voice, but I'm not complaining about the end result.

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