17 July 2016

Review: Grotesque Ceremonium – Demonic Inquisition

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grotesqueceremonium-demonicinquisitionGrotesque Ceremonium is a one man death metal project from Ankara, Turkey. The brainchild of Austrian born Batu Çetin, their debut album Demonic Inquisition seeks to build upon the momentum of 2014’s Blasphemous Goat Observance EP.

 

The first thing that struck me about this album (aside from the superb artwork) is how tame it is (relatively speaking). When you consider all the components thrown in the mix: the low, guttural grunts; the thick, heavy riffs; the relentless, pounding drums, you’d probably expect an album of aggressive, relentless death metal. It is, however, quite timid. This is partly due to the fact the programmed drum sound is weak. Rather than feeling each beat resonate and add to the intensity, it sounds like a metronome meekly providing a backdrop for the riffs to work around. This also robs the album of any power in its speedier moments, with faster riffs coming across as mid paced. In a way, this actually works in the album’s favour, and I feel this may have been intentional from Çetin. He seems to have traded off fury in favour of a more sinister, atmospheric sound. The record possesses a murky, dense feel, with twisted, monolithic riffs in abundance. Whilst there are a handful of flaws to be found, the way Çetin is able to evoke such a morbid ambience makes up for some of these shortfalls.

 

The most important aspect of any record, and sadly one in which Demonic Inquisition comes up a little short, is the song writing. Although Çetin has been able to invoke a dark soundscape, the actual songs themselves could use some work. Many seem to be based around the same sort of blueprint, with riffs and drum patterns that are too similar to one another. A lot of the songs only have one or two drum fills repeated as nauseam, showing a real lack of invention (again, likely due to the programmed drums). A live drummer with a more in depth knowledge and greater experience of crafting drum parts would certainly have been beneficial. There also appears to have been little thought put into developing broader compositional structures, with a lot of the songs launching right into the thick of things with no build up. A more subtle, dynamic approach in some tracks would have added some much needed variety.

 

For all of Demonic Inquisition’s flaws, there is something irresistible about the inexorable darkness it conveys. With the inclusion of a live drummer and more adventurous song writing this could’ve been a great record. As it stands, it will remain a decent offering that falls short of its potential. Not essential, but Grotesque Ceremonium an still an act worth keeping your eye on.

 

Rating: 3/5 – Death metal that’s rich in atmosphere but lacking in the song writing department.

Highlights: “Burned at the Stake”, “Malefizhaus & Hexengefangnis”

Band links: Facebook, Bandcamp

 

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