I typically find myself doing what I’ve been referring to as “challenge listening.” Not that it’s always something I find difficult to listen to or something like that. Usually, I just try to listen to music I normally might not. Great example for me is the new Taylor Swift album. I’d call that a challenge listen since Swift is typically not to my specific tastes. And it turns out it is easily the most interesting record she’s put out, and it’s a damn good record as well. I personally believe everybody should do this kind of thing. It expands your mind and introduces you to something not usually on your radar. And who knows: you might just find a new favorite.

Now I have to talk about Drouth. Drouth is another personal challenge listen since blackened death metal is almost never on my list of things to check out. But a few people had said it was worth my time, so I gave it a shot. Am I ever glad that I did that since it’s that rare example of a band so unique that genre descriptions fail to accurately describe them. The band definitely has a strong black metal influence, but it’s not like Mayhem-style black metal. It’s far more atmospheric than your typical blackened death metal band. Even the death metal part of their style has its own unique blend of influences, leaning heavily into the tech death realm without introducing the elements that can make tech death oppressively dense to some listeners. All of this is presented with progressive songwriting, making it a wholly original musical form. Sure, you could say Drouth is an atmospherically blackened progressive tech death, or you could just say, “Damn, this is cool and sounds like Drouth.”

Their latest record, Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy, is the culmination of this sound thus far in the band’s 5-year career. Drouth has folded all these different influences into a single new voice. They have been working up to this since their inception, reaching that pinnacle that few artists achieve of forging their own voice that sounds like no one else. They already had a unique voice of their own, but Excerpts grows upon that sound and really builds it out to a new area.

The lyrical content of Excerpts also helps to emphasize the overall style. The music is already extremely dark and unnerving, but the lyrics are the icing on the cake. John Edwards’ lyrics paint a dark picture of a primitive society that sounds just a little too familiar to 2020 in many respects. That connection feeds into the imagery the band creates and further grows that unsettling feeling from their music. It culminates in an album that accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: tell the listeners a story in a way that works on every emotion and level. In 2020, Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy is the example of the perfect record.

I was completely stunned and floored by what I heard once I clicked play on Excerpts. This record has a lot of different ideas presented all at once, but it’s not nearly as dense as “atmo-blackened progressive tech death” might sound. It is incredibly musically mature, relying on rare songwriting structure, melody, and a desire to break from the norm. In other words, Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy is the exact kind of record you want a favored artist to release. Drouth has set the bar extremely high for extreme metal in 2020. I don’t see anyone surpassing this high mark any time soon. Bless you, Drouth


Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy is out now via Translation Loss Records, and is available for purchase on Bandcamp.

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