Review by Paul Castles
The Swedish death metal scene has been a steady source of brilliance for many years. Sitting firmly among such company as Entombed and Hypocrisy are Diabolical, whose fifth album Neogenesis, merely enhances their heady reputation within this field. The five-piece came together around the turn of the millennium and early releases were impressive enough to see them booked on tours alongside the likes of Vomitory and Amon Amarth. They really raised their game in 2008 when releasing The Gallery of Bleeding Art – their first on ViciSolum Productions – which was universally acclaimed as a classic by metal reviewers across Europe. Their fourth release Ars Vitae maintained the momentum and included some live material alongside a remastered version of the very first release Deserts of Desolation.
Neogenesis opens with the mortifyingly menacing ‘Into Oblivion’. Like so much of what Diabolical deliver this is a multi-tracked titan of a track. Everytime you listen to it you stumble across new doors of destruction to open and investigate. The tempo is one of controlled sustained aggression and the opener is more than matched by the next number ‘Metamorphisis’ which is every bit as disturbingly intense.
Although happy to wear the death metal badge of dishonor, the Swedes bring much much more to the table than meaty breakdowns and guttural roars. ‘Oblivion’ opens with some almost Eastern inspired wisps before the tranquility is savaged by some rampaging riffs and machinegun volley vocals all neatly wrapped up in a package with choral chanting and spine tingling solos executed with imagination and verve.
Those who don’t quite get the death metal thing usually throw the cheap line of haughty derision that every track sounds the same. Such lame attempts to discredit musicianship of the highest order simply won’t wash with Neogenesis as this is an album full of surprises and questions. There’s even a two-minute piano piece of sublime virginal purity called ‘Ex’ that you’re unlikely to hear on many albums filed under the ‘death metal’ tag at your local record store… If you still have one that is!
The Swedes have so many layers under their bullet belts and on furious songs such as ‘Reincarnation of the Damned’ swell up into seismic slabs of crater crushing brutality. ‘Fields of Nihil’ is a more tortured piece with strained vocals fighting for air above the din with a sole female spoken voice in the background.
And as if the music isn’t enough, the album is also a novel, every song uniting with a chapter of the book to align the music and the lyrics with storytelling and philosophy. Collectively Neogenesis is a timeless temple of progressive death metal that you’re unlikely to tire of any time soon.
8 out of 10
Diabolical are set to support Gallic giants Svart Crown on their forthcoming UK tour. Fortunately a Birmingham date has been confirmed so on March 3 make sure you’re at the Flapper & Firkin for a double header of the highest order.
- Into Oblivion
- World in Silence
- Reincarnation of the Damned
- Fields of Nihil
- Dialogue with the Dead
- Wolves’ Choir
- The Age to Come