Since discovering Amenra I have been searching for more atmospheric, all-encompassing sludge metal. The kind with crushing riffs that explode from slow, dooming builds and heart-wrenching interludes. The kind that leaves me broken, yet satisfied. In my quest to find something that’ll help me pass the time between Amenra releases, I stumbled across France’s Deliverance. Like Amenra, they have the ability to suck you deep into tension-building ascensions before coming down on the front of your skull like a sledgehammer. But, the biggest difference between Amenra and Deliverance is that the latter prefers the accompaniment of rasping vocals and black-metal song structures. Combining this foundation with Amenra-like builds and Gojira-esque, concrete-cracking riffs, 2020 finds Deliverance releasing their most-impressive work to date. But, good luck looking beyond the haunting artwork, the heart-sickening album title, and a band name that reminds one of hillbilly butt sex. Now, everyone, open your books to the chapter of “Holocaust” and let’s begin.
If 2017’s CHRST had been my first experience with Deliverance, I’m not sure I would be as excited as I am about this band. While it’s a solid release, Holocaust 26:1-46 is far more dynamic and interesting than its predecessor. Suggesting that these Frenchies know how to grow with each release. While the band maintains the black-sludgy persona they’ve had since 2013’s debut EP, Doomsday, Please, Holocaust pushes it further. Rather than a one-dimensional vocal performance and a cruise-controlled speed from beginning to end, Holocaust finds the band experimenting a lot. From moody, The Ocean-like atmospheres to tension-building climaxes that morph into death marches and vocals that range from rasps to barks to cleans to a post-hardcore punch. It has almost everything my black heart could ever want.1
If you were to judge an album by a single song—as many of you do2—the opener, “Saturnine,” is a good representation of what to expect on Holocaust. It’s a cold walk through a snow-caked forest3. Alternating between sludging “fast” and sludging “slow,”4 the shining moment of the song comes in the middle. After coming to a screeching halt, Pierre Duneau initiates a suspenseful skylift ride with “I have crucified my own father.” When the lift reaches the top, thunderclap booms in the sky, snapping your neck in two.
“Holocaust for the Oblate” and “God of Furs” use a similar approach to the opener. “God of Furs,” though, is far more blackish than “Saturnine.” Slinging Satyricon at its sludgy mood, the song erupts, once again, in the middle. But, this time, the powerful riff drips of death metal blood, a la Gojira. It’s a crushing lick that collapses, drowning you in the Lake of Sorrows. “Holocaust for the Oblate” is a 3-am nightmare. The kind that, after waking, makes you realize there’s no one there to comfort you. An effect-ed haziness coats the clean vocals, making the sludgy trudge and rasping accompaniment that much more unsettling. The leads keep the song grounded in hopelessness until their transformation into a whirling swarm that flies down your throat at the 7:12 mark. It’s a badass piece that achieves every bit as much as “God of Furs,” but in a completely different way.
And that’s the album in a nutshell. From track to track, you never know what to expect from Holocaust. Take “Sancte Iohannes” and closer “Makbenach,” for instance. The former creates a nightmarish air of swirling leads that do more for the song than first meets the ears. Not to mention you have another massive riff that magnifies, as well as dominates, the track. The closer is another black metal piece laced in a sludge metal attitude. Like the opener, it’s a track that is the essence of Holocaust. But, after five minutes of mayhem, the song fades out into a dark, depressive direction that has me drinking up its Amenra-meets-The Ocean sadness. These last couple of minutes use a mix of clean guitars and clean vox that’ll leave you feeling lonely.
When I grabbed this release, I hoped to find a melodic sludger like Amenra. But, I didn’t. Instead, I found something as unique and powerful as Amenra, without being like them at all. On its own, Holocaust 26:1-46 is a clever, captivating record. The one-dimensional Gojira-esque “The Gyres” is the weakest and the back-half of “God in Furs” would have made a better album intermission than another four minutes to a nine-and-a-half-minute-long track. But, that said, the album is without filler and the dynamics are quite pleasing. Especially for an album as bass-heavy as this one. Holocaust 26:1-46 is as upsetting a chapter as any written and I can’t wait for more.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Deadlight Entertainment | Bandcamp
Websites: deliveranceplease.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/deliveranceband
Releases Worldwide: February 21st, 2020