“It becomes clear that there has been a huge evolution when you compare our old songs to this album” … a statement that rings true – and loudly so – as early as, at the latest, 30 seconds into “Cursed to the Pyre”, the debut full-length of deadly thrashers Slaughter Messiah.
Having channelled their primal instincts with simple yet effective fare on two demos and three EPs in less than ten years, the band sounds peculiarly sophisticated on their first album while maintaining every bit of their trademark aggression and – maybe distinctly? – Belgian blackness.
“We play the way the ancient masters taught us, no matter where they came from”, rebuts drummer John Berry. “What you could call typical for our home country may be our beer consumption and my personal preference for Bastos cigarettes.”
Jokes aside, it is fair to say that the four-piece easily manages to set itself apart from the largely faceless pack that flooded the scene in recent day by tacking familiar archaisms to stunningly complex compositions in order to create something that sounds as extreme as it is original.
“I like to think that the source of our music comes from a lot deeper than just listening to the classics,” the skinsman continues. “While there is nothing wrong with that, you quickly turn into an uninspired, generic or watered down version of it all.”
It is for this very reason that besides relatively straightforward outings such as opener ‘From The Tomb into the Void’ or ‘Pouring Chaos,’ a barnstormer evoking images of a stirred hive of angry hornets, the record offers acutely atmospheric and almost progressive moments, the kind of which make seven-minute epic ‘Hideous Affliction.’
According to guitarist Thomas Exhumator, the lyrics treat a case in the mid 1800s when England was trying to find and cross the North West Passage. Two ships set sail and got lost in the ice for years.” Weave in some magic inspired by fiction as well as facts from history regarding cannibalism, madness and mutiny, the result might well be the group’s preliminary calling card.
Closely behind follows ‘Pouring Chaos,’ which seems fittingly hectic at first with respect to the title invoking confusion; quickly though, it turns out to be a demonstration of both drama and quasi-surgical songwriting precision. Likewise, ‘Fog of the Malevolent Sore’ and ‘Pyre’ display Slaughter Messiah’s new-found methodical approach.
“That’s basically just how he is wired,” the others explain, meaning the six-stringer as their main orchestrator. Grinding and ploughing, crawling and pummeling in all the right places yet never swerving one inch from, as John summarily names it, “pure and uncompromising metal of death.”
Given this, you can be sure that “Cursed to the Pyre” will lead the quartet into excitingly different directions … albeit still to “conquer the world and kick more ass,” as bassist and singer Lord Sabathan puts it.