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Apostate Viaticum – ‘Before The Gates Of Gomorrah’ (Album Premiere)

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In an alternate universe, Dustin Hoffman’s character in ‘The Graduate’ is a ne’er-do-well death metal musician. The advice from a neighborhood friend wouldn’t have to change too much: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Production.” The Irish DM lifers that comprise Apostate Viaticum have been banging out caveman riffs in monolith-sized slabs for decades, so there’s nothing lacking on the songwriting end; what sets debut album Before The Gates Of Gomorrah above the rest is the bright, punchy mix that it flows through. Scooped mids? Weak low end? Not on this record. The themes are dark and putrescent, sure, but they’re also clear, heavy and BIG. Every snare hit in “Anathema Inherent” hits you right in the chest; every pinch harmonic in “Moloch the Sanguinary” tweaks an eardrum. As much as it’s verboten to encroach on the classics, if the production found here was applied to, say, Like An Everflowing Stream…it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

After doing work with underground Irish death metal outfits like Morphosis and Inhumane, Before feels like the culmination to putting in the blood, sweat and time (there’s no crying in metal!) required for a modicum of recognition in a niche market. While their previous bands may have been straightforward, the members of Apostate Viaticum haven’t put blinders on to what else has occurred since their playing days began. Ireland’s extreme metal scene has a strong history of bands successfully cross-pollinating genres, so it isn’t a surprise to hear some Incantation (“Before The Gates Of Gomorrah”) or Primordial (“In The Shadow Of The Monolith”) alongside supremely crafted and crushing pure death metal (“Bastards of Cain”). All the songs are wrung through a murky, malicious death/doom crusher that will definitely appeal to anyone with Hooded Menace and Acid Witch patches on their crusty old vest.

“Beckoned By The Callous Dead” closes the album with several worthy nods to DM’s earliest influences: King/Hanneman dueling dissonant solos, throaty Tom G. Warrior roars, and some speedy riffs straight from the Seven Churches playbook. Blood Incantation, among others, are leading a proggy/tech “cosmic” death metal trend right now, and that’s great. But there will always be an audience for unadulterated, crypt-dwelling heaviness in this crowded genre, and Before The Gates Of Gomorrah is as good as place as any to spend some time throwing horns and clutching oranges.

Before The Gates Of Gomorrah is out on March 13 via Invictus Productions. Follow Apostate Viaticum on Facebook.

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