Grethor – Damnatio Memoriae

Rating: 3/ 5
Distributor/label: Edgewood Arsenal
Distributor/label URL: https://www.facebook.com/edgewoodarsenalrecords/
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: http://grethor.bandcamp.com
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/grethorofficial/

Band line-up:

Marcus Lawrence – Vocals
Anthony Rouse – Drums
Nick Rothe – Bass
Brian Frost – Guitar
Tony Petrocelly – Guitar

Tracklisting:

01 – The Imminent Unknown
02 – The God of Eugenics
03 – The Last Manifesto
04 – Embracing Oblivion05 – Tongue of Argent
06 – Enantiodromia
07 – Requiem for a Strawman
08 – Weaponized Madness
09 – Manic Nostalgia
10 – From This Rot so Shall We be Remade
11 – Wounds of Ruin

Review

Formed in 2007, north Virginia’s Grethor (Black/Death) will be releasing ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ this January 2018, the title roughly translates to ‘condemnation of memory’ a Roman Senate adopted form of dishonourable punishment for traitors and criminals, says the enclosed synopsis. This follows the previous EP Cloaked in Decay in 2015, making this their third EP release. The background info on the album toots the usual Black Metal tropes on anti-religious exercise, it doesn’t fail to nail down the cliché here.

Grethor is a curious mix of influences, they list all the heavyweights Cryptopsy, Deathspell Omega, Dissection etc… and for the most part, this is pretty evident when you listen closely. The opening track ‘The Imminent Unknown’ drops you straight into a simple punchy bass line with a creeping Morbid Angel inspired dissonant movement that picks up the pace quite nicely later, with swift changes, settling down to a more expected outro.
This track certainly got the most of my attention and later became my track of choice, followed closely by the second track.

As we move on ‘The God of Eugenics’, a classical Black Metal blast no-holds-barred intro, with some impressive sharply timed drum fills, reminiscent to my ears of Immortal, moving into one of my favourite riffs at around 1:20. ‘The Last Manifesto’ throws you again into a brutal assault, alternating consistently between the mid-paced and the blast, with thrash like tendencies at times, featuring more memorable riffing. ‘Embracing Oblivion’ brings in a synth intro and then draws you in with some crawling dissonant blast riff segments. From here, things start to become more contrived and more typical of an ‘old school’ black/metal offering these days, content with the formulaic, not really making any real lasting impression, I started to notice the length of the tracks from this point on.

Lawrence’s vocal styling throughout the album draws me to want to make a loose comparison with Dani Filth, especially when the lesser shrills are expulsed, it does start to get a little wearing at times, the dual-tone vocal layering is perhaps overused, but it’s consistent and powerful. The production on the album is well polished, sonically the guitars are well spaced with the bass making a gentle impression (Perhaps a little indistinct for my taste at times – The Bassist’s lament). Drums come through well, accents still in play and not crushed by compression, it’s exceptionally tight throughout.

In conclusion, this is an album of two halves; I enjoyed the first half much more than the second, it kept me engaged and was sonically more diverse, it also had good pacing and didn’t fatigue my ears so much. When you move on to the latter half, most of this is no longer present and you’re left with a relentless sonic assault for the most part, this will suit some people more than it did me. Whilst there are no new frontiers here overall, it stakes a claim as a worthy contender for your playlist, perhaps not in its entirety however.

Review by Joel Wheeler
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