I’m no expert in brutality, but I do enjoy the occasional brutal death metal album. With that said – when I happen to be in the brutal mood per se, I REALLY enjoy the blast beats and guttural-infested vocals that are such distinguishing staples of the subgenre. So enough about my white belt in all things gore; let’s plunge head first into Unique Leader Records’ latest offering of death in Condemned’s third full length, His Divine Shadow. Founding member, Steve Crow, delivers some of the sickest riffs I’ve heard all year on this wooly mammoth of an album. Plus, His Divine Shadow is Condemned’s first LP to feature newer members – bassist Ryan Tyler, vocalist Sam Townsley, and drummer Tyson Jupin.
All in all, Condemned has executed an astounding performance on His Divine Shadow, playing at such a high level of intensity without sacrificing epic moments of melodious riffing. The band even throws in some ambient, atmospheric-like tones that are perhaps best showcased in the intro track of the album, “Penumbrae”. After this badass, Terminator 2: Judgment Day-like introduction, Condemned sends us spiraling down into a chaotic pit of awesome, almost tech riffs in “Dawn”. Only then do they dispel us into the grooves of the punishing “Omniscient Perturbation”. Immediately following this crushing track are heavy-hitters “Legion” and “Ascending The Spectral Throne”, both of which display some of Condemned’s catchiest of riffs. Now halfway through His Divine Shadow comes my favorite song off the album, the gut-wrenching “Nefarious Sanguine Decree”. This sixth track opens with what sounds like a bloke slurping worms, and quickly turns into a perfect example of what Condemned is capable of: brutal death metal delivered with a great sense of song structure. That is also evident on track seven, “His Divine Shadow”, which further clarifies Condemned’s message of sophisticated brutality with a dash of ambient overtones. Up next is the short but sweet “Pestilential Reign”, and while it is under three minutes, it still packs Condemned’s tight punch into a focused assault of speed and brutality. On the home stretch now, Condemned provide two powerful tracks for the final minutes of His Divine Shadow; “The Hive Ablaze” that culminates the band’s frantic and groovy elements spectacularly; and “World-Reaving Terror” that is a fitting finale for the album, with its massively aggressive breakdown.
Condemned perform with the utmost precision on this album. Sound off and let them know on their Facebook page here! And don’t forget to listen to His Divine Shadow, streaming below!