Band: Unaussprechlichen Kulten
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: October, 18th 2019
Rising from the land of Chile, this is a particular group that has been a favorite of mine since I managed to stumble across on Bandcamp some time ago. Unaussprechlichen Kulten is one of those bands that have impossibly high standards set following anything they release; ruining many other albums I was suggested, instead, I ravenously ran through any available music I could find. Teufelsbücher marks their fifth full-length and my first opportunity to review them, so I leapt at the chance. Unaussprechlichen Kulten is a four-piece made up of Namru Impetradorum Mortem (a.k.a. Goldor or William Muñoz) on bass, Butcher of Christ (Ricardo Stöhwing) on drums, Herbert West on guitar, and Joseph Curwen on vocals and guitar.
First thing of note about the band, primarily for the uninitiated, they are absolutely steeped in H.P. Lovecraft lore; everything from the monikers donned by the two guitar-playing members, to their name (an obscure reference to a book that doesn’t even exist), and the subject matter is pulled from or inspired by the cosmic horror of the Cthulhu mythos. This is a well-mined topic, and yet still Unaussprechlichen Kulten stands far above any other entity experimenting with the style. Beyond just leaving the lyrics to tell the tale of old gods and their horrific dealings, the music is especially designed to convey their message with twisting melodies and unusual structures. This album not only fits right in with their oeuvre but is also an excellent piece of metal in 2019.
Every release of theirs has had evocative art on the cover, this one dons a spectral squid and three women tangled in its tentacles all fading into smoke from an open book. The art always captures the occult sound the band creates and pushes further on every release. Teufelsbücher has a high bar to crest from the band’s previous full-length which partially shares a name with a song on this release; Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) was an album I kept coming back to time and time again, with melodies that were so infectious that they’d begin to play in my mind like a twisted soundtrack. Starting from the tease of the first song for this release, it was clear that no skill or idea was left on the cutting room floor.
Namru’s bass playing is liquid and dream-like, filling the soundscape with deep thrumming, flowing intuitively through the smoke of the guitars. His haunting bass lines act as the pulse of your sanity reacting in the presence of utter horror. Butcher of Christ hammers the drums and cymbals of doom, setting the off-kilter foundation for the band to set their incantations upon; his ability to blend a standard style with odder beats and how naturally he transitions between the two is remarkable. Namru and Butcher meld their work together creating a glue out of the low-end holding the whole picture together.
Herbert West and Joseph Curwen’s guitar playing is, as it was on previous releases, the real star here. The riffs bend and curl through the speakers and permeate the atmosphere with their unconventional notes and melodies; as the momentum builds explosive solos dart out from the darkness, showcasing how thick the fog is like lightning in a dense storm. Their style of Death Metal has always left me amazed and particular credit needs to go the contributions of West and Curwen. On Teufelsbücher the longer songs are engrossing, vast, and yet never boring due to their high level of talent. Joseph Curwen’s vocals are the growls of a cult leader chanting in tongues to summon otherworldly beings; the majority of the vocals are this perfect growling that compliments the spirit of the music. Curwen also employs a bizarre layered back-of-the-throat chanting as well, and this was initially off-putting, but it did grow on me throughout repeat spins.
Teufelsbücher is a great album by one of the best bands out there, but it doesn’t break that high water mark that was set going into it. This is one of those albums that if it were made by someone unknown it would serve as the launch-pad for an outstanding career, but coming from Unaussprechlichen Kulten this is just par for the course. I thought it would be an excellent album and it is, so I’m not complaining, but I wasn’t blown away like I had been expecting. Still, this isn’t a record that should be passed up and I know it will appear on a lot of year-end lists.
1. The Evil Out of Control
2. Keziah Lilith Medea
4. A Search and an Evocation
5. Flapping Membraneous Wings
6. Necromancy and Torment
Total Playing Time: 42:37