Proscription – Conduit Review

The name “Christbutcher” may not mean anything to you. I asked Steel about this guy in reference to a nearly decade-old review,1 and in Nacho Libre fashion he was like, “WHO?” It’s a provocative name, perhaps the screen name of a rebellious preacher’s kid or his conservative dad’s melodramatic criticism of Obama—who knows? A quietly prolific multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and American expatriate to Finland, Terry “Christbutcher” Clark sports an impressive discography through a number of Finnish groups of all creeds: brutal blackened death explorers Excommunion, deathmongers Dethroned, OSDM purveyors Cryptborn, and most notably to me, black/death teeth-kickers Maveth. His first release since Excommunion‘s 2017 release Thronosis, he’s back in black under a new pharmaceutical-sounding project: Proscription. Which pill is it: the black pill or the, erm, death pill? More importantly, is debut Conduit going to cure your black pain?

Proscription‘s prescription features the signatures of impressive physicians: lead guitarist Cruciatus of Lantern, bassist Apep of Sacrificium Carmen, and drummer Mikko Koskinen of The Lifted Veil, alongside Christbutcher on guitar and vocals. Piggybacking off of its 2018 promo, Conduit features blistering blackened death a la Adversarial or God Dethroned, carefully measured doses of sinister and relentless and a full stomach of Clark’s immense vocals. Balancing scathing and pummeling, it won’t stop the death rattle, but that won’t deter you from demanding a refill. While I’m running out of medical metaphors (Doom_et_Al, send help), Conduit is ultimately solid blackened death whose content is outweighed by its potential.

While Proscription tries to distance itself from past acts, it most closely aligns to Maveth, channeling equal measures of thrashy blackened death a la Adversarial and atmospheric menace a la Demigod-era Behemoth. Tracks like “Red Sacrament Black Communion,” “Radiant Midnight,” and the closing title track embrace tasty chaos with wonky solos and intense blastbeats, making use of their feasible five-to-six-minute runtimes with smooth songwriting between crushingly dense death passages and blackened shreds. “Voiceless Calling” and “To Reveal the Words Without Words” are clear highlights, as the former embraces Christbutcher’s earthshaking roars alongside crushingly dense riffs, while the latter embraces an almost atmospheric black metal passage in paper-thin tremolo, sustained melodies, and blastbeats to a melancholic degree. The bass is also a nice overall addition, that while much of death metal interpretation falls into inaudible territory, Proscription ensures that its punch drives the bottom end just as much as percussion. Promo re-recordings “I, the Burning Son,” “Thy Black Nimbus Gate,” and “Blessed Feast of Black Seth” also display the power of Conduit‘s production in contrast. Effectively thick without sacrificing the audibility of its elements, the guitars sway between crushing riffs and scathing tremolo, while bass and drums provide a complex bottom-heavy backbone.

While the promo showed potential, it nevertheless stumbled blindly in its excessive repetition and lack of variety, and Conduit‘s re-recordings of “I, the Burning Son,” “Thy Black Nimbus Gate,” and “Blessed Feast of Black Seth” do little to solve imperfect composition. It’s clear that Proscription has improved their chops since the three songs’ release, creating smoother transitions and having a firmer grasp on its atmosphere. While “I, The Burning Son” only suffers from abrupt movements, “Thy Black Nimbus Gate” and “Blessed Feast…” feature overly repetitive awkward melodies and jarring transitions, painful detractors in an otherwise solid blackened death outing. Overall, I would love to have seen more of Christbutcher’s vocals front and center, as in Excommunion or Maveth, but the riffs and atmosphere take precedent, for better or worse. Even so, Proscription does little to step out from the shadows of its predecessors, as Conduit‘s attempts to distance themselves from Maveth with a template of thrashy Adversarial-esque black/death with Cryptborn‘s cavernous stylings ends up still sounding a lot like Maveth. Ultimately, while advertising a brand name, very little differs from the generic.

If nothing else, Conduit is an indicator of an upward trend. Unlike many of Christbutcher’s short-lived projects, Proscription has the opportunity to improve upon their debut’s running start. It’s a 43-minute course of treatment that never feels overprescribed, displaying the new and mature alongside the old and jagged. It provides a nicely balanced blackened death metal foray into menace and pummel, with plenty of room for growth. While Conduit may not be the miracle drug this staff is capable of, it nonetheless offers a wicked prescription of blackened death metal done right. This pill may only treat black death symptoms, but you’ll be asking for a refill nonetheless.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: proscription.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/proscriptionhorde
Released Worldwide: September 24th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Yeah, Steel, you’re old.
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