Deathcult - Beasts of FaithTo paraphrase and bastardize Carl Sagan, if you want to create true old-school death metal in 2016, you almost have to create death metal itself. To make death metal in the spirit of the old school, it’s not enough to just subscribe to the orthodoxy and call it a day, much like trying to apply Hegel to the twenty-first century by screaming about how much you like constitutional monarchies would be terrible philosophy. Developments happen, and while some works are more correct and defensible than others, their content must be brought forward in spirit and essence, not just verbatim in content. That’s one important difference between imitation and understanding, and Switzerland’s Deathcult are an OSDM band who aims for the latter. Their debut, Beasts of Faith, tries to “get” the death metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s and bring it into 2016, but it’s hard to be convinced.

Deathcult can be comfortably lumped in the niche “weird” OSDM scene with bands like Obliteration, Morbus Chron, and Tribulation. The root of it all is old Death, Entombed, and Autopsy riffs, but it tries to be more “progressive” by making the songs a bit more technically involved and spaced out, but less immediate along with hints from the melodicism of the old Swedish scene to spice things up. Beasts of Faith aims to mix this all together with a nearly transparent coat of new paint much like The Matrix added virtual reality to a combination of Descartes’s “evil demon” thing and Plato’s cave allegory. The old ideas are the most prevalent, and it’s obvious to anyone familiar with the source material. The Matrix was a quality action flick, which was its contribution to the ideas that inspired it.

Beasts of Faith doesn’t really do anything so exciting. The title track throws a nice Last One on Earth vibe into the mix, tossing aside pretensions to just embrace the timeless virtue of good riffs. When the Swedish-styled melodies of the intro fade out, “An Accurst Procession” moves into a lurching and disgusting Mental Funeral style of plodding, and follows that with a big nod to Spiritual Healing. It continues toying with its elements like viscera-coloured Play-Doh, making different shapes with the same stuff, eventually returning to Swedish melodicism for a good ending to the record. It’s easily the best track here, and as an added bonus comes after a decent rendition of Death’s “Evil Dead” that really emphasizes the Slayer influence of that track.

Deathcult 2016

Deathcult makes fairly enjoyable OSDM – and you know what’s coming here, because I, like Sir Mix-a-Lot, Lil’ Jon, and other luminaries of postmodern philosophy, always have a “but” on the mind – but it’s nothing more than that. Instead of selling me on Beasts of Faith, opener “Barren Land” caused me to sit there and pick out the influences of the track. The influences are better bands (see above), and caused me to fondly remember why I like them instead of making me like Deathcult. Also, time management is not a skill in Deathcult’s arsenal. Interlude “A Foul Glint” is boring to the point of malice towards the listener, employing a somewhat creepy riff that’s overused in nearly four minutes of fluff that sounds a whole lot longer. “The Sick Within” does a similar thing with its outro, which takes up three of its eight minutes, the other five being fairly energetic OSDM that’s fun but unremarkable. These flaws are weirdly exacerbated by a good production job that’s natural, dynamic, and sounds like, well, old-school death metal. This merely emphasizes the largely imitation-grade content further.

Beasts of Faith will surely please those less discerning fans of OSDM who want nothing more than stuff that reminds them of the old classics, being inoffensive and largely safe. Perhaps the most damning thing about Deathcult’s debut, more than everything I’ve already said here, is that I was relieved to be done with it. Not done listening to it, but done focusing on it and trying to find anything remarkable or interesting to discuss. As background music, it’s perfectly fine and will please most OSDM fans. As something to focus on, it’s good for a few spins to dive into everything the Deathcult has to offer. As a lasting record, something to pick up over others when you’re looking for that New Age of OSDM fix? Beasts of Faith is lacking.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Invictus Productions
Releases Worldwide: September 26th, 2016

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  • The Unicorn

    That snare drum is unbearable. The drumming is terrible.

    • sir_c

      The drum kit is nothing more than a pile of empty washing powder boxes in the basement. In that light, the sound is actually pretty awesome :-)

  • haralampos

    I actually LOVE the snare sound. So incredibly nostalgic and massive!

  • Zac Melvin-McNutt

    Well, I thought this album was really really good. Nothing new and innovative but it showcases classic death metal very well. I can’t understand why this album gets shat on but that new Gatecreeper has people foaming at the mouth

    • Well, 2 different reviewers to start with.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      Same reason that the other two comments in this section have polar opposite opinions on the snare: because all this shit is subjective.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It showcases classic death metal well enough like a smartphone showcases the Mona Lisa well enough.

    • I can at times become fairly tired of lack of idiosyncrasy, both within death metal and other genres. Now, Deathcult haven’t reinvented the wheel or rediscovered the fire. Yet, when the recipe is applied like this, it makes for pretty good dynamite anyway.
      A lot of metal may deserve being labeled “Disappointing”, but this band doesn’t deserve it in my ears.
      PS: Check out the Norwegian band by the same name, and their Cult of the Dragon if a “black metal equivalent” may tempt.

  • “Beasts of Faith will surely please those less discerning fans of OSDM who want nothing more than stuff that reminds them of the old classics, being inoffensive and largely safe. ”

    Damn if those burns haven’t been coming thick and fast with recent reviews.

    Putting it bluntly, this isn’t a patch on any of the other OSDM bands cited*. It’s not offensively badly, but those tracks outstayed their welcome by a good few minutes.

    * That in mind, the only one that is anywhere near death metal these days is Obliteration (Black Death Horizon is fucking epic). Does Horrendous fit into the “weird” OSDM category? What about Execration?

    • Dr. Wvrm

      Gruesome has to fit. If they aren’t “Old School,” I don’t know who is.

      • Being a clone of the eldest Death there is, they are definitively reeling off stuff within the borders of OS.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Horrendous is too conventionally melodic in the Carcass vein to fit into that niche, but they’re all the better for it.

    • Anthony Ippolito

      There is also Disma, which is clearly doing OSDM, but doing it very well. Towards the Megalith is not just a great OSDM album, it was one of 2011’s best death metal albums, period.

      • Doesn’t Disma fall into the sub-sub-genre of cavern metal, along with Funebrarum?

        • Anthony Ippolito

          It is indeed cavernous (and Disma shares at least one member with Funebrarum, as I recall), and I guess there are not too many bands that really sound like Disma, but something about the song structures really reminds me of mid-era Incantation – hence my feelings of old-school death metal.

          Cavern metal might just be one of the most niche metal sub-genres around, except for maybe bluegrass-black metal, as heard on Panopticon’s excellent Kentucky album. Bottom line: we need more goddamned cavern metal.

  • Bas

    Switserland, Deathcult.. sounds familiar ;-)
    I am a bit ignorant, but wath is OSDM ? I can guess that DM stands for death metal, but what does the OS stand for?
    Good review. Despite the negative points mentioned it still dounds like something I might like. When I have more time I will listen to the video.

    • Old School

      • Bas


  • Jason

    That band photo features every Photoshop filter EVER.

    • sir_c

      No, just a stoned photog who left the shutter speed at 1/3 of a second

  • Wilhelm

    This song is mastered quite well; The music is pretty well done DM, if not very innovative.

  • sir_c

    I still prefer this a thousand times over Mr Tates’ attempts of writing music.

  • brklyner

    Are these guys innovating within their genre? Nope. Would I enjoy seeing them live after a few beers? Most likely.

  • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

    Although this is far from a glowing review, it seems to spell out what the album is about very well. I enjoyed this track and decided to buy it from Invictus. Looking forward to hearing it as a whole. Great review. Thanks guys for turning me on to a new band. On another note, I’m in love with that artwork. I found myself wanting to purchase this thing solely on that cover beforereading the review or listining to the featured song.