The year is 2017. The world as a whole has fallen on rough times at the moment: economic and political meltdown seems to threaten every corner of the globe, our climate is warming up and few, if any, of the responsible parties acknowledge this, let alone make plans to prevent it, and nuclear war seems imminent at all times of the day. In the words of the inimitable Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “the car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel.” We’re constantly teetering on the brink of the abyss.
If there’s a plus to this, it’s that our proximity to said abyss has allowed some outstanding musicians to channel its raging chthonic depths, resulting in a renaissance of death-metal-flavored sonic violence the likes of which nobody could have really seen coming. This year alone has seen enough excellent death metal to populate an entire best-of list, and it’s come in all shapes and sizes. From the churning atonality of Tchnornobog to the meat-and-potatoes classicism of Incantation to the shreditative cosmic grandeur of Gigan, there’s a little something for everyone, and it’s all fucking great.
But, as always, a new challenger must approach, and it is in this corner – ready to fight tooth and nail for a place at 2017’s death metal dinner table – that we find Rites of Daath, who are releasing their debut EP, Hexing Graves, this Friday. And boy oh boy, is this a fine slab of death metal right here.
Playing squarely into the tradition of doom-infused death metal that the aforementioned Incantation invented oh-so-many years ago with the back to back classics Onward to Golgotha and Mortal Throne of Nazarene, these Polish heavyweights aren’t afraid to take it low and slow, spending the first quarter of Hexing Graves‘ runtime – the entire eponymous opener and the first two minutes of “Necromantic Rites of the Underground” – building up to the nuclear blast furnace riff that finally hits around the 2:15 mark of track two. Listeners soon have their heads swiveled the other way, though, as Rites of Daath pivots excellently from the crushing heaviness of American death-doom into a fantastic melody that smacks of Swedeath influence, and soon meld the two styles into a track that bridges the two discreet scenes and joins them in a truly unholy matrimony. The three remaining tracks follow suit in their mission of bringing scalding death metal furor to the listener’s ears, and the ensuing 15 minutes that tracks three to five take up are a truly wild ride.
Rites of Daath doesn’t do anything that death metal fans haven’t already heard, but what they do, they do supremely well: Hexing Graves shows us a band that clearly gets death metal and knows how to wield it like the auditory chainsaw it is in the hands of the best. Give this EP a listen (or several (hundred)), and keep your eye on these Polish upstarts. There’s certainly good things in their future.