The first album review for 2017 is for a young Irish band, Scáth Na Déithe, which, after the debut EP The Horrors of Old released almost 2 years ago, will unleash on Friday, the 13th of January, their first full length album called Pledge Nothing But Flesh.
Taking it forward from were the EP left it, the debut album sees the band evolving bit by bit, from the sound to the music. The album has a total of 6 songs, 2 instrumentals an 4 long, frightening tracks, that will scare the shit out of you. If, with this release, you are expecting traditional black metal in the old school way, well, this will come as a big surprise for you. But if you’re open minded and like to discover new things in music, then Pledge Nothings But Flesh will fit you like a glove.
What we have here is a mixture of death and black metal, but with a lot of dark atmosphere. Everything’s sinister on this record, and that’s really cool, cause here, at Scrolls of Darmoth, we like this doomsday feeling of oppression and sorrow. Seems like all the way through this album everything around you crumbles and perishes under your very eyes, without you being able to escape the implacable destruction of all that once was so dear.
The album starts with Si Gaoithe, a very short intro, before plunging into Bloodless, the first proper track of the release. Apart from the very short interludes (Si Gaoithe and Failthe Na Marbh), all the other 4 tracks last for more than 10 minutes, dragging the listener into an abyss of darkness.
The cavernous growls and the savage guitar riffs of Cathal Hughes blend perfectly with the fast/doomy parts of Stephen‘s drums. Even if the songs are long, they are not boring at all, proving the 2 Irish musicians know how write their craft. During these +10 minutes songs, the band has the chance to experiment and creates a desolate landscape full of sorrow, switching from very fast parts, with demented blast beats and chilling riffs, to slower, atmospheric passages. I love the way these changes are made, they keep the band away from monotony and build up this chaotic structure of sinister music.
A very smart trick they used on this record was to insert an interlude, Failthe Na Marbh after the first 2 songs (Bloodless and This Unrecognized Disease), to calm the rampage down a bit and to allow the listener to catch his breath. After this short acoustic part, the other two songs, The Shackled Mind and Search Unending build up the final, sonic assault. Search Unending is slowly becoming one of my favorite songs from the album, with its creepy acoustic guitar parts that come out of nowhere at the end of the track. A perfect way to conclude an exceptional debut album, leaving you wanting for more and ready to press “play” again and again.
Pledge Nothing But Flesh is a violent and suffocating album, very well structured and with 6 compositions which have their own role on this disc. There’s no filler here and the structure is very compact, everything flows into the same direction and has the same purpose: to drag you to hell.
Production wise this album is very good, every instrument can be clearly heard and it allows the aggression and the melancholy to intertwine perfectly. Scáth Na Déithe has managed to record a very good extreme metal album and for a debut CD the result is more than promising.
I urge you to play the cd at maximum volume but beware, there’s a lot of insanity on this record, use it at your own risk.
I cannot end this review without noticing the superb cover art, done by Luciana Nedelea who has captured exactly the very essence of the music this band plays. The colors on the cover are the colors of the songs, each of them mingling together in one desolate landscape of death and doom.
I know the band played live for the very first time last year in Galway, at Dark Arts Fest, so I can only hope that someday I’ll have the chance to see them live too.
Until then, keep an eye open on the group’s Bandcamp and Facebook pages, there you’ll find the newest updates.
Pledge Nothing But Flesh Tracklist:
1. Si Gaoithe (instrumental)
3. This Unrecognized Disease
4. Failthe Na Marbh (instrumental)
5. The Shackled Mind
6. Search Unending
Scáth Na Déithe Line-Up:
Cathal Hughes – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Synth
Stephen Todd – Drums