Don’t lie to me – you know you absolutely adore fast-paced black metal. Who doesn’t? What’s not to love? Exhilarating, evil and when done right, it’s just about infinitely enjoyable. Highly distorted, often dissonant riffs, pounding drums with snares that sound like machine guns, rasps that sound like the vocalist swallowed a naga chilli that only made it half way down his throat, the many pleasures it can contain thrill and frighten. Throw a small helping of death metal riffage into the mix, perhaps even some speed metal and you have Denouncement Pyre. If you’re not excited by that description, or already buying it, you’ll probably remain unconvinced and should close this tab and go back to your knitting or whatever it is you do when you should instead listening to black metal. Did I mention black metal is great? Let me say it again – it’s great, and so is Denouncement Pyre.
Arguably its derivative, redundant and pointless, since thousands of albums like this one have come before it. You could also argue the sky is red, and that I’m a perfectly reasonable person. Here’s one thing that’s beyond argument though, Denouncement Pyre know how to make it sound exciting and filthy both in equal measure. Picture the twisted riffing in Gorgoroth with much more emphasis on flowing tracks that are made all the better by the fact they always satisfy instead of ending early or never going anywhere. Couple this with a dash of death metal, but not much, just enough to add more warmth and grit to the palette. They’re definitely not attempting to reinvent the wheel or innovate, but when it’s done this well, there’s very little that needs to be innovated.
Lack of innovation aside, the album is utterly ferocious. Tracks like “He Who Conquers All” blast on through, bulldozing the ears in an infectious display of enjoyable riffs with huge sounding drum-work. You could argue that the drums are doing only what they need to and never rise to greater heights, and there’s truth in that, but being overly analytical of music designed for this purpose might ruin what’s great about it. It’s a formula that has been honed to perfection over many years and at this point, it’s just about impossible to sound fresh without throwing everything out of the window. Rest assured, had this come out 20 years ago everyone would be absolutely blown away by it, and not just because it would have been new or innovative, but because the quality is there.
The vocalist is great, too. His rasp has a deep tone that sounds like the halfway-house between black and death. He sounds absolutely ferocious at points, especially near the end of “He Who Conquers All.” The death metal is very subtle on this album. Its more in the tone than in the instrumentation, but it’s a welcome addition that separates this from the frostbitten grim tone of many black metal albums and gives it a much warmer feel.
But here’s where Denouncement Pyre excel, and without this they’d be lost in the sea of similar bands. They never ever repeat the same phrase twice. They pack a lot into each track and constantly move the album forward in such a satisfying way that it becomes the complete antithesis of what you would expect from a band milking a generic formula. They write constantly moving pieces, not three sections they repeat to flesh a track out. I can guarantee that if you listen to this album you’ll be tempted to listen to it again because of the way it constantly moves the aesthetic forward, and at 45 minutes, it’s a satisfying length and never lets up. The final track, the tension-building ‘The Redeemer’ shows exactly why these guys are so great at what they do – condensing all their assets into a seven and a half-minute monster.
It’s a no-brainer that if you’re a fan of black metal, death metal or even speed metal, you should at least try this. Denouncement Pyre take great influences, combines them with quality song writing and flow that makes it all work. It’s a great, enjoyable album, and you should love it for what it is – just like your children. Though if you happen to have a child like this album I’d consider seeing a priest.