Father Befouled - Desolate GodsOf all the metal sub-genres to come to prominence in the last decade or so, perhaps the most frustrating is the so-called “caverncore” style. We’ve heard it time and again: murky guitars, gurgly vocals, and an unabashed love for Incantation in both sound and artwork. While it’s proven a successful sonic palette for bands like Cruciamentum and Dead Congregation (not to mention the recent Cemetery Urn album), many of these groups simply mire themselves in a riff-less murk that makes even Alestorm seem appealing1. Yet Atlanta’s Father Befouled stand apart, if only because they sound more like Incantation than any of the others. Since their formation by vocalist/guitarist Justin Stubbs in 2006, the band has espoused their infatuation with ‘tation through three prior full-lengths, with Stubbs recruiting drummer, and fellow Encoffination member, Wayne Sarantopoulos in 2009 to aid in the diabolical conquest. Fortunately, the lack of originality doesn’t always equate to failure, and Befouled’s last album (2012’s Revulsion of Seraphic Grace) earned high marks here at AMG. But how does Desolate Gods fare?

First, a caveat: when I say this sounds like Incantation, I don’t mean they’re just a notable influence. This isn’t even Incantation worship, this is the sound of a band collecting John McEntee’s hair and building a shrine in the closet. Guitars consist of revolting downtuned tremolos, drums consist of blastbeats broken by doomy crawls, and vocals consist of a subterranean growl that sounds very much like a slightly less guttural version of McEntee. If someone told me this was the new Incantation record, I wouldn’t question it for a second. But is it actually good?

I wish I could think of a more enthusiastic way to say “fuck yes.” For starters, Befouled absolutely nail the ugly, miasmic vibe their idols are famous for. With a mixing and mastering job by Cruciamentum’s Dan Lowndes, the guitars are dank and sweltering yet powerful and clear, and the mix is spacious enough to effectively cultivate that dense “wet cave” atmosphere we all (mostly) love. More importantly, Gods contains songs that one can actually remember, even after first listen. “Offering Revulsion” is the breakneck opener with jerking tremolos and a solo that rips like a ravenous vulture, “Ungodly Rest” is the doomy beast with lumbering chords and mournful Paradise Lost-style leads, and “Mortal Awakening” is the early highlight whose stomping mid-song march feels less like a riff and more like an invisible hand that yanks your head back and forth.

With atmosphere in this style so often occurring at the expense of notable ideas, riffiness has largely become the main determinant of quality in this sub-genre. Fortunately, Gods feels like Befouled wrote an hour-long album, distilled all but the best riffs, and crafted what remained into a 30-minute powerhouse of cohesive savagery. Take aforementioned “Ungodly,” which features a grotesque tremolo line that crawls up the fret-board like a giant spider after its prey. Likewise, the closing title track stands out for its blunt and bullish riffing, before finishing with some of the fattest doom segments on the album. Even late-album instrumental “Vestigial Remains of…” stands out for its fuzzy notes and sleek Paradise Lost leads, sounding incredibly elegant and majestic, which are two words I never thought I’d use in this review.

Father Befouled 2017

Really, the biggest negative is the lack of originality, and even that can be forgiven with how great the writing is. Songs are often built off prominent main ideas, which return and repeat often enough to make the compositions feel coherent but not repetitive. At 30 minutes and eight tracks in length, this is a concise and well-crafted record, with a brooding instrumental intro, excellent variety, and entertaining embellishments like a spoken word conclusion that beckons listeners to drink the blood of the titular desolate gods (recalling Morbid Angel’s infamous “God of Emptiness” in the process). Even the drumming stands out, managing tempo shifts with ease and at times subtly adjusting to maximize impact.

While I understand how silly it must seem to get this excited about another band that sounds like Incantation, few of the others have produced something as good as Desolate Gods. This is a record that nips at the heels of the innovators, crafted with menacing conviction and overflowing with riffs that will crush your head and then perform an occult ritual over your lifeless body. If nothing else, this is proof that sometimes even a dead horse still has plenty of blood left in it.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: fatherbefouled.bandcamp.com | fatherbefouled.com | facebook.com/fatherbefouled
Releases Worldwide: June 23rd, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. And honestly, their new album is actually winning me over. Damn you Diabolus!
  • This sounds like New Jersey smells.

    • Smells delicious!

      • Guess you’re a west coast guy.

        • basenjibrian

          Does New Jersey smell worse than the Port of Los Angeles? Or Crocket and Rodeo (the Lesser Coast of the Bay Area)! :)

          • jersey devil

            Actually it is just (parts of) north Jersey that smell bad, but they are along the major highways that many people drive on and so get noticed and remembered. I have strong nasal memories of driving up to north Jersey and taking in the acrid chemical and industrial smells (which matched the sights along the way). But central and south Jersey smell just fine, and the jersey shore smells great! [End of lesson on distribution of smells in NJ]

          • basenjibrian

            “It smells like prosperity” LOL.
            Of course, The Owners have largely off-shored industry, so we don’t get the joy of China or India. No unions. No regulations. No recourse when your kid comes down with leukemia.

            But hey, Walmart can sell consumer stuff for CHEAP! Always Low Prices.

    • Drew Music

      …but I like this, and I’m not worried about the safety of my ears for having enjoyed of deep metalz…

    • Spread Wide & Panic

      How many times have you been, and where in NJ did you go Steel?

      • I lived there for 6 years and still get there for sporting events and concerts, if I must.

    • Sean Sky

      I work in the meadowlands and don’t really think it smells. There are some stinky areas around like Newark and around Sayerville on the parkway (I think there’s literally a dump there). I grew up in the Westwood area and went to college in Mahwah and both are super clean and nice.

    • Nexus

      NJ is nice where I’m from. Or maybe I’m just used to it from living here my whole life

  • André Snyde Lopes

    That track isn’t doing much for me. Reverb up the wazoo, that cymbal that just doesn’t fucking stop and the fact that I think I must’ve heard it a gazillion times before aren’t helping either.

    • Go stand in the corner Lopes!

      • André Snyde Lopes

        *goes to a corner and listens to 2016 records”

        • Diego Molero

          What? No 2017 release that you really, really like?

          • André Snyde Lopes

            That I really, really like (aka, 4.5) only Dodecahedron and Igorrr thus far. And only a handful of others just below (Elder, Heretoir, Wormwood, Emptiness, KaironIRSE).

            2016 was pumping out great after great, 2017 is being comparatively unremarkable, to me.

          • Diego Molero

            You listened to Venenum yet? Can’t stop recommending that album, is by far the best thing to come out this year.

          • basenjibrian


          • André Snyde Lopes

            I did! It’s very good, I’d say but it’s basically an inferior offshoot of Tribulation’s The Formulas of Death so I can’t listen to it without being constantly reminded of TFoD, which undermines the experience for me.

          • Diego Molero

            Haven’t listen to that Tribulation album, but I have to now. If it’s even slightly better than Trance of Death, then it might as well be my favorite death metal album.

    • Yeah, I can’t hear any “powerful and clear guitars” or “spacious mix” in this puddle of mud. Also in terms of songwriting I find it boring… Maybe it’s just not my genre.

  • What a fantastic last line!

  • rumour

    Huge Incantation fan, so this is just ye olde PURE GOLD:
    “This isn’t even Incantation worship, this is the sound of a band collecting John McEntee’s hair and building a shrine in the closet.”

    • EnslavedEld73

      I agree.

  • GWW

    Must have this. Excellent review.

  • Dan Lowndes is the British version of Colin Marston.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Great review! Got it in the mail yesterday and it’s even better than I expected. Nobody is Incantation but they come close. Lucky for fans of this style we get a new Incantation this year too. Well deserved 4.0

  • Brent Johnson

    No matter how riff-less the murk, it can’t make Alestorm sound good. But this, this is worth checking out.

  • Gage

    I love death metal but I don’t get the hype for Incantation.

    I’ll just be leaving now…

    • Drew Music

      Come back, everyone’s gotta be the black sheep in some circle. I’ve never been able to find a seat on the Pallbearer bandwagon, myself, and I often dream of a world without Megadeth.

      • basenjibrian

        Their (Pallbearer’s) new album is kinda boring, no?

        • Drew Music

          They all are to me. Never bad or even outright weak, just never anything that I find all that exciting.

          • Gage

            THANK YOU! Pallbearer bores me to tears

      • [not a Dr]

        “[…] and I often dream of a world without Megadeth.”
        Ironically, Megadeth have published several songs that contain detailed instructions on how to achieve this.

    • herrschobel

      jaja… ciao !

  • herrschobel

    unlink the barking sound of Dying Fetus this is very much up my alley…i also find this more listenable than Incantation.

  • You wot m8?

    Last year’s offering by Altarage was better, but this is still pretty good.

  • sir_c

    It also has some good ole Belial flavour to it. Melikes

  • John Mosley

    Lovely music.