Alright, now THIS is what I want from a death metal album in 2023.
The Parasitic Chambers is the second offering from San Diego's Conjureth, a band that in no way reflects the eternally mild atmosphere of their hometown. Upon hitting "Play" on "Smoldering Psalms," you're immediately hit with all the reasons so many people hate death metal and why so all of us love it so much. It's a wave of sound that brings chaos and fury, but is still constructed with precision and an earnest attention to detail.
It's why every song on this album comes with at least one hook that makes you want to go back for repeat listens. A lot of death metal bands, and not JUST technical death metal bands, get lost in their own form of analysis paralysis. Many artists fall into the trap of focusing on technique at the expense of memorability. But Conjureth avoids that mistake by including the "cool parts" scattered throughout the album.
Check out the riff at the 29-second mark of "Dimensional Ascendancy," a simple lick that recalls Beneath the Remains and Arise-era Sepultura. The rest of the song is practically littered with Trey Azagoth-esque guitar work that adds all sort of madness to this banger track. If Incantation and Immolation are more your jam, then head over to songs like "In Mortal Thresholds" and "Cremated Domain" for your fix. I particularly like the palm-muted breakdowns on "In Mortal Thresholds." A perfect jam for getting jammed in the pit.
Apparently the band has self-consciously set out to embody the spirit of 1986 to 1989 death metal, seeking to embody the spirit of that time before things got too technical, guttural and predictable. To that end, there's noticeable traces of thrash metal present here. However, these flourishes are conducted in a way that allows the band to go in unexpected and interesting directions, recalling peak-era Coroner, Death Angel, and Sadus more than anything from the big four.
The entire band puts on a fantastic performance here, and while I am partial to guitars as a player myself, I have to call out the drumming of Frankie Saenz on this album. His playing on songs like "Deathless Sway of Torsos Calm" anchors the band while skillfully allowing it to explore several moods and varieties of tempos and progressions. This ability to shift effortlessly from one approach to another is especially evident on "Devastating Cataclysmic Unearthing" — listen closely to the snare patterns and you'll see what I mean.
Overall, the band certainly succeeds in exhuming the corpse of early death metal here. But crucially, the band doesn't simply sound like "new old-school death metal." It helps that they don't use HM-2 pedals or go for the Morrisound scooped-mids approach. The sound is full, balanced and alive, and it borrows from a healthy mix of Morbid Angel, Deicide, Incantation, Immolation, Bolt Thrower and the technical thrash bands that it doesn't just sound like a gimmick grifting off the work of the past.
As you listen, you're never totally sure where Wayne Sarantopoulos and crew are headed. But you're always happy once you get there.