Wednesday 26 June 2019

Omenfilth - Devourer of the Seven Moons (2019)

Country: Philippines
Style: Black Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 12 Apr 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives

Oh yeah, that's an agreeably demonic voice introducing proceedings over the ambient backdrop to The Dictate of Morbid Hegemony, which opens this album. Surprisingly, it seems to be demonic in English though, rather than Tagalog, because the delicately named Omenfilth were apparently "spawned out of the abyssal crypts of the Philippines", which translates to San Pablo, a couple of hours southeast of Manila on the other side of Laguna Lake.

I'm reviewing Devourer of the Seven Moons because a friend of mine has moved to Quezon City, saw my review of Mothflesh from Malaysia and so wanted me to tackle some Filipino death metal as well. Well, I'm keen on variety here at Apocalypse Later, so I plumped instead for some Filipino black metal driven by Filipino mythology, albeit black metal that feels rather like early death metal.

Fast and furious songs like Summon the Beast of Damnation or slower numbers like The Embrace of Solitude aren't too far removed from the proto-death I remember from Celtic Frost and Possessed in the mid eighties. Omenfilth say that they're mostly influenced by second wave black metal bands from Greece such as Rotting Christ and Varathron, along with the Swiss band Samael, all of which started a few years later at the very tail end of the eighties. It fits.

What we end up with is that there's a lot from both black and death in Omen Filth's sound. I'm not seeing any corpsepaint on video and, even when they speed up, they don't really hit the levels of blastbeat hyperspeed that I'm hearing lately. The vocalist's name is Deathfiend (which says much on its own) and there's both black shriek and death growl in his voice. The pace is often slow and deep and there are a couple of interlude pieces, the title track and Negare Omnis Vitas. In other words, they flout expectations nicely and the album holds together well.

Summon the Beast of Damnation and The Embrace of Solitude, very black metal titles, sit in between the first two interludes. Omenfilth get still more serious with the second pair that sit between the second two. Bakunaua ex Inferis is brutal feedback ridden black metal that reaches the fastest tempo thus far. Seared by the Flames of Bawo features another wild solo. For me, the solos are the biggest success of the album. This one and the one Summon the Beast of Damnation are raw and visceral. They're felt as much as heard and they carry the most evil to be found here.

This is Omenfilth's third studio album, with a live album in between and it seems like they've found the sound they want and they're having fun with it. All four songs here are worthy, especially for old school fans of eighties extreme metal. Frankly, the biggest problem is that there are only four of them. The intro and two interludes extend that effectively, but that still leaves an album shorter than Reign in Blood.

There is more to be found here. A cover of Vulcano's Bloody Vengeance, with the same Satan summoning intro, edges it past the half hour mark. Then there are a couple of live versions of tracks from their debut, Opus Sanguinarium, released back in 2016. The production is pretty dire on these live tracks so they don't feel like part of the album. Maybe they're really the second half of Pandemonic Ascension of the Ancient Serpent, that live album, just thrown onto this one too to pad out the running time.

And that's a shame because I like what I hear from Omenfilth otherwise. I'm fine with the interludes, because they help variety and capably showcase the musicianship of the guitarists, Deathfiend and Von Necroticus. I didn't mind the cover but the live tracks are an unworthy cheat. Another couple of new studio tracks instead before an instrumental outro would have balanced this out well and left me a lot happier.

So let's see this as partial studio album, four worthy songs paired off to defile us in between delicate bookends, and wait to see how the next one is built. Omenfilth are prolific enough for the wait to likely be a short one.

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