Monday 2 March 2020

Proscrito - Llagas y Estigmas (2020)

Country: Spain
Style: Doom/Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 27 Jan 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website

Here's something really heavy to kick off the new month. Proscrito may come from Sabadell, just inland from Barcelona and the best seafood I've ever had the privilege to eat, but they clearly aren't looking on the bright side of life. This is heavy from the first note and it doesn't let up for forty hard hitting minutes. The band sound like they want to chow down on some long pig rather than a paella made with fish hauled out of the Med an hour earlier.

Proscrito is Spanish for "Outlaw" and the title of this, their second album, translates to Sores and Stigmas, which is rather appropriate because this is as true to the name of the doom/death genre as anything I've heard. Perhaps because of the early influence of Paradise Lost, there's a gothic flavour to the genre and it's often as beautiful as it is achingly slow and heavy. I'm not hearing any gothic metal here and it's all as ugly as sin, inviting us to join the band not on a mountain to ponder on our own mortality but within some festering pit.

Fortunately it's a descent into the mire sonically rather than through poor production. The mix is good, so while this does remind of proto-black metal on occasion like early Bathory, I can still hear everything I need to. It's the tone of the instruments that anchors us to the depths. Everything here is downtuned and the drums have a fantastic echo to them that I'm surprised I haven't heard before. This is brutal death metal slowed down to the speeds appropriate for doom rather than doom metal with added death.

When the guitars speed up, if only a little, on Tronos de Oprobio, the drums are so heavy that they weigh them back down like an elephant on the back of a motorcycle. That they play along for a while on Exequias doesn't diminish the effect. The vocals keep us grounded too, as if they're emerging from the earth and aiming to drag us under with them. I can't even tell if we have a single vocalist or two, whether he's expounding forth in Spanish or English or, for the most part, whether there are even words involved.

And that makes for a pretty cool sound in my book. It's not subtle material in the slightest but it does exactly what it wants to do and it does it with patience and confidence in itself. I don't believe Proscrito have any notion of sounding like this band or that, at least any that I've heard. I believe they're just trying to churn out music that's as heavy and uncompromising as they can and they do a fine job of achieving that, especially by the time we get to the closer, Pantalgia.

Every time extreme metalheads get together, online or in person, discussion inevitably ends up on "What's the heaviest thing you've ever heard?" I tend to throw out funeral doom, while others plumb the depths of brutal death and grindcore. Proscrito are the first doom/death band I've heard that warrant a mention in those conversations, especially with Pantalgia. How dark are the chords that kick it off? How much does it benefit from feedback and subvocal screaming? It's eleven minutes of pure heaviness. I doubt I'll hear anything heavier this month, maybe this year.

And with that said, let me take a moment to muster up the energy to stand up because forty minutes of Proscrito has rooted me to my chair. It's redundant to point out that this isn't for everyone but if you want your doom/death as heavy as doom gets and as deep as death plumbs, I'm happy to have introduced you to your new favourite band.

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