Trance of the Undead – Chalice of Disease Review

Sometimes you just need an audio beating, to crank that funky brutal music to 11 and let your ears bleed. The issue with a lot of beatdown music is that there’s simply too much of it and not enough contrast, which is why bands like Isis or Opeth were applauded in their heyday, while Tetragammacide and Deiphago are chastised like a class clown. Having your skull beaten in is fine and dandy, but you need some sophistication. A baseball bat made of maple instead of ash, perhaps, or a titanium crowbar instead of iron. Maybe a fist with some pretty rings or maybe even a bedazzled tire iron? Brazil’s Trance of the Undead utilizes predictable beatdown techniques in its blackened death attack, but will it get your jazz hands a-wavin’?

Trance of the Undead is a blackened death metal project from Viamão, Brazil, a brainchild of sole member, and likewise named, Trance of the Undead. Originally and independently released back in May 2020, his first full-length Chalice of Disease gets a makeover and label release following a busy schedule of two demos, an EP, and a compilation over the last two years. Expect furious blastbeats, blazing riffs, and subterranean bellowing, as he waxes poetic about the occult with some organ passages to boot. Ultimately, Chalice of Disease offers little to nothing unique save for a few sparse passages, but if it’s the blackened fist to the face that you’re craving, look no further.

Chalice of Disease’s approach is simple. While pitch-dark in its presentation of blackened weight, it’s the pummel that takes the cake. Utilizing a skillful palette that borrows the reverb-laden vocals of black metal, the buzzsaw tone of death metal (Swedeath in particular), and a vicious percussion attack, Trance of the Undead is relentless, for better or for worse. Tracks like “Grave Sacrament” and “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” are straightforward beatdowns of intense proportions, while balanced tracks like “Angel of the Bottomless Pit,” “Overture to Uncreation,” and “Archaic Knowledge Unveiled” utilize organ tones and doom influence that revels in its HM-2 tone. At its best, overlays of keys provide a horroresque atmosphere, an abandoned abbey’s halls lit by petals of flame. The title track is the best example of this, as choral samples and keys grace the violence with ghostly subtlety. Worth mentioning is that these highlights are defined by moments rather than holistic tracks. Ultimately, they keep Chalice of Disease treading water, even if it never gets its head above it.

The one glaring thing that dooms Chalice of Disease is its one-dimensional guitar attack, although its limp songwriting cannot be overlooked. While the drums do their darnedest to keep things moving, the guitar never strays from low and wicked, shifting from one simple tremolo or chord to the next, rinse, repeat. A solo, another guitar track, or a melodic or dissonant flourish would add some level of interest, but Trance of the Undead leaves the keys and samples for this purpose. While there is a moment of dissonant chord progression within “Angel of the Bottomless Pit,” it stands alone. Chalice of Disease clocks in at a reasonable forty minutes, though I gained nothing but a glaring headache from the repeated buzzsaw riffs. Intro “The Old Abbey” is a decent intro of swelling organ, but it abruptly shifts into “Grave Sacrament” without transition. Although a decent listen, Chalice of Disease does nothing to challenge the already overcrowded blackened death scene. Even in comparison to 2021 records from the like-minded Esoctrilihum or Crypts of Despair, Trance of the Undead falls tragically flat.

While Chalice of Disease is an adequate blackened death crowbar to the figurative knees, it’s iron with all the rust to boot. Trance of the Undead offers equal measures of black and death with a tasty guitar tone and ghostly production, but it grows old real quick with its one-dimensional attack and songwriting. “Ad nauseum” is fitting, as its utilizes dissonant chords and keyboard abuse, which is only vaguely remedial when executed through tired songwriting. It’s a smack to the face for a nice shock to the system, but that’s all it is. The only staying power of Chalice of Disease is the Trance of the Dead crowbar’s ability to beat the dead horse.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Releases Worldwide: September 10th, 2021

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