20 Mar 2016

Denial of God: "Death and the Beyond"

Striking compositions, outside-the-box thinking metal
Superficially the black metal genre has long been affiliated with anti-christian, anti-religious, satanic and blasphemic themes, concepts and iconography. While undoubtedly symbolic of the artists' disgust with society, it's an element that has had a tight grip on the scene for many years, and pentagrams and inverted crosses continue to embellish album covers to this day. Other than their name and blasphemic logo, Denial of God from Denmark have successfully distanced themselves from this trend, dealing instead with subjects like the spirituality in death.

Nationally Denial of God is a name that carries a certain amount of weight. Though most of their discography since their creation in 1991 has consisted mostly of EPs and other short form releases, their constant presence in the scene has garnered them both reputation and respect. Their current drummer, Galheim (another mainstay in the Danish metal scene), is a relatively new addition to the lineup, having "only" been in the band since 2005. At the core of DOG remains guitarist Azter and vocalist Ustumallagam, having both endured since the band's inception in '91. Despite being classified as black metal Denial of God have very little in common with bands like Marduk or Darkthrone. As such they aren't your typical garden-variety band, never falling back on chaotic tremolo-based riffing.

Death and the Beyond, the Danish trio's second album, is highly atmospheric, and I'm not talking in the same sense as Wolves in the Throne Room. Rather, the album plays in spirit like a 70s Italian horror flick. Especially the 15 minute epic that closes up the album stresses the band's ability to write material that isn't only captivating in essence, but also musically interesting. From the first note of the piano intro-piece Veni Spiritus to the last ringing of Pendulum Swings, the 45 minutes in between features everything from melancholically uplifting ballad-like tracks like Behind the Coffin's Lid to more traditionally approached black metal arrangements like Black Dethe.

"Their perculiar take on the genre makes them a standout act, with Death and the Beyond being a simple and effective album."

Denial of God's musical range cannot be denied, and their craftsmanship is astounding. They prove that black metal doesn't need to be 200 bpm blast-fests, and that a decrepit crypt-like atmosphere isn't only achieved through excessive synthesizers or lengthy tremolo passages. Their perculiar take on the genre makes them a standout act, with Death and the Beyond being a simple and effective album. Ustumallagam's sepulchral voice in conjunction with Azter's melodies and Galheim's rhythms shows a band that works well together and have found their approach for the future.


Released in 2012 on Hells Headbangers Records

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