5 Mar 2014

Despot - Satan in the Death Row [Full length] (2013, Self-released)

The South American continent has long been one of the big players in extreme metal, and bands like Sarcófago and Sepultura are household names in metal today. Picking up the mantle in 2008 is B.A.V., formerly of Necrocult and Unholy Massacre, when he created Despot, a militantly crude black metal project through which he released 3 demos until laying the finishing touches upon his biggest opus yet, Satan in the Death Row.

Right off the bat Despot and the associated album Satan in the Death Row gives off a somewhat schizophrenic vibe with the colourful and vibrant cover art leading the thoughts more toward hipster-indie stuff rather than the savage black metal tunes that inhabit the disc. The intro track, too, supports the notion that Satan in the Death Row is an effort quite dissimilar to the traditional approach many bands take, its electronic ambience sounding more akin to certain European pioneers. But at the very core of it all is the raw bulk of black metal coarseness, a more obvious product of Despot's national ancestry. And like many of the Despot's South American predecessors the music itself - the riffing in particular - has an inherent tinge of thrash metal, turning songs like Purified by Fire into relentless Sodom-esque tunes.

The weirdness and ambiguity of Satan in the Death Row doesn't end with the perculiar choice of artwork or the ambient intro. The beginning of the album's eponymous track also feels a bit out of place along with the same track's oddly melodic solo and the epic aftermath of same, and the closing track of the album neatly ends the experience in much the same way as it began. Fact of the matter is that all these elements serve to subtract from the often cheesy sense of self-worth and arrogance inherent to some black metal acts. The commanding beats of the programmed drums to which B.A.V. plays his militaristic riffs and rasps his belligerent lyrics grants Despot's music a militant and vigorous sound, and the marching habit of his compositions could well have devolved into mediocrity.

Not knowing Despot's previous demo work it's hard to say for sure, but Satan in the Death Row feels like an ambitious endeavor. The riffs aren't too shabby but often feel lost in a hostile environment of ferocious drum machines where the strings don't quite come into their own. Classical elements and computerized choires lend a certain amount of melody to the mix, which in turn once in a while makes it harder to discern individual elements. Not always does the compositions follow the tide of battle, but it can generally be said that the 9 tracks on Despot's debut album present a different take on modern, South American black metal. 6/10 guitars.

1. Introduction: Divination
2. Matriarch
3. Auto-da-Fé
4. Purified by Fire
5. Satan in the Death Row
6. Forbidden
7. Le Roi Nu
8. Egregious
9. Outro

Visit Despot's official Facebook
Listen on Bandcamp where the album is also available as pay-what-you-want

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