Back in February, Poland's blackened death metal powerhouse Behemoth released The Satanist – an elegantly produced album that marked the band's return after a five year absence due to mastermind Nergal's battle with leukemia. The Satanist arrived to nearly universal critical and commercial success and was widely praised for tempering Nergal's shockingly sacrilegious lyrics with glossy, elaborate studio production. The end result was one of the most polished and accessible black/death albums ever recorded. Now, almost as if in response to The Satanist, Spain's Teitanblood has loosed Death; a nigh impenetrable mass of atavistic black/death chaos. Death is in every way the bizarro version of The Satanist, but is it any good?
Maybe thinking in terms of "good" and "bad" is inappropriate when talking about Death. Fans of ugly, bestial metal along the lines of Black Witchery may reasonably call this one of the best albums of the year, while people who appreciate The Satanist's technicolor sheen could very well find Death unlistenable. The muddy production quality, excessive run time (68 minutes), and amelodic nature of the songs will certainly alienate a lot of people, but this music isn't meant for the majority of heavy metal fans. Teitanblood have always made ugly, confrontational music, and Death is their most extreme offering yet.
Right from the beginning, Teitanblood spits in the face of the stately iconoclasm that bands like Behemoth employ. There's no orchestral intro or catchy hooks to draw listeners in; the opening track, "Anteinfierno" simply erupts into existence as if the song was already in progress. The lyrics, which are as blasphemous as you'd expect, are completely unintelligible. Where more conservative bands take pains to ensure their message is understood, Teitanblood envelope vocalist NSK's growls in a raging cacophony that could best be described as what Hell sounds like. The songs on this album are every bit as diabolical as those on The Satanist, but in terms of sheer primal evilness, Teitanblood are untouchable.
"Anteinfierno" sets a pretty accurate bar for what to expect throughout the album. Brief flourishes of musicality occur here and there, like the bass riff that opens "Sleeping Throats of the Antichrist" or the spastic guitar solos that occasionally pierce Death's wall of wretched noise, but the vast majority of this album is an unholy, punishing racket. That being said, attentive listeners will notice that the uproar Teitanblood creates has a backbone of crushing riffs and solid drum work. The band also utilize eerie samples of chanting and distorted vocals to lend tracks like "Plagues of Forgiveness" and "Cadaver Synod" an otherworldly feel.
Death is not for the faint of heart, but those with the fortitude to endure this album will be rewarded with a truly extreme musical experience. Teitanblood set out to reduce death metal to its most primitive form, and they've succeeded. This is brutish music that most won't enjoy, but fortunately these guys don't care about offending your tender sensibilities.