Circle of Dead Children // Psalms of the Grand Destroyer
Rating: 2.0/5.0 —Who let the pigs out? Who? Who?
Release Dates: EU: 07.06.2010 | US: 06.08.2010
Here at Angry Metal Guy Industries ©®, staff is small [by which he means “little people” – Ed.], deadlines are many and mercy is neither asked for nor granted. Therefore, we of the reviewer caste don’t always get to cherry pick bands or genres we love. Because of this ugly truth, sometimes a review must be done for something outside our musical wheelhouse. That is the very dilemma facing yours truly with a review of Psalms of the Grand Destroyer by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s own Circle of Dead Children. Album number four by these purveyors of inhuman deathgrind is sick, twisted, chaotic and brutal for brutality’s sake, but is it good? That is a mighty tricky question.
For a true fan of deathgrind, which sadly, I am not, this may be a big slice of putrid, maggoty heaven. It’s 32 minutes, during which you get assaulted by no less than fifteen bursts of horror and insanity, some lasting eleven seconds, some approaching six minutes. There are merciless blast beats a plenty, ugly sludgy guitar work at times reminiscent of Saint Vitus, and at other times like very old Carcass. Then there are the vocals. Oh those vocals. I’m not sure if Joe Horvath is the sole vocalist or not but the vocals are, for lack of a better description, utterly deranged, disturbing and freakish. There are uber guttural death roars, blackened shrieks and screaming, then there are these creepy and spine tingling tortured pig squeals. I’m talking about some really fucked up twisted sounds here folks. Not for the faint of heart or generally sane.
Now, I love my share of death and black metal but I’m not a devotee of the whole extreme deathgrind thing. Therefore, the short blasts of extreme noise and insanity do little for me. I respect what the band is going for and they surely do deliver a lot of insane brutality and it’s disturbing at times but it doesn’t resonate with me as something I would listen to regularly. In fact, the only time I could see putting this album on is when I needed to dismember a body in a bathtub at three in the morning using pliers and metal shears. Since I’m rarely in that situation, Circle of Dead Children won’t be making my heavy rotation list.
Despite these reservations, there are genuine moments of interest for me here amid the swirling malevolence of Psalms of the Grand Destroyer, including the down tuned, doomy plod on “Avatar of Innocence,” the thrashing frenzy toward the end of “Obsidian Flakes,” and the ominous, threatening mood created throughout “Germinate the Reaper Seed.” In fact, “Germinate” is the standout here, grinding along at a slower pace but really generating tension and an evil and oppressive feeling. If the rest of Psalms was like this, I would truly be sold on what the band was doing. Sadly, the bulk of Psalms of the Grand Destroyer is more about crazed blast beat insanity with pig torture included.
While Psalms is likely to appeal to a very small subsection of the overall heavy metal market and will be far too extreme for many, Circle of Dead Children do what they do with a lot of conviction and twisted style. I salute them for that and for being so completely over the top with sickness and insanity. That said, I really can’t get into this and my rating reflects that. If you love sick deathgrind, feel free to mentally add two or three points. Enjoy at your own risk and keep far away from live children!