1.) Vampire Embrace 5:04
2.) Dirge For the Devoured 5:02
3.) Eldritch Curse 5:28
4.) Haunting Echoes 5:21
5.) Contract From Below 4:49
6.) The Mentor’s Skull 5:39
7.) Pernicious Deed 5:24
8.) Petrified Forest 2:00
9.) The Wrath Of The Lamb 6:53
As my musical journey takes me round the globe again, I find myself back in sunny California. Not the first place you’d think to find Black Metal however you’d be easily surprised to hear how many one man acts all hail from this state. With the likes of Xasthur, Leviathan and Lamp Of Murmuur to name just a few. Its becoming quite obvious that more and more are emerging from the rotting & festering woodpile. However, why is it possible to come from somewhere that the weather always seems to be a constant sunshine fest, is light, bright and so multicultural. So how do so many acts manage to pull off some of the most girm, cold and kult music out there?
Well that’s why I’m here. To review Devouring Famine’s first full length new album “Haunting Echoes“. After a gruelling several months and 4 demos has the entity managed to pull off what he set out to achieve? As I set my headphones on my Skull, and the weight of my robes slowing me in this Californian heat. I look for a shaded spot to rest my bones, wind down to smoke a cigarette and take in the sounds of what looks to be this entities crowning glory.
The album wastes no time into ploughing directly into the ferocity of the tracks, we are treated to a new track. The first being “Vampire Embrace“, with a stunning drum and guitar riff fest this track opens like a Tornado and the sound of the entities vocals represent the howling winds that it brings. This track peeks and dips in tempo between verses keeping the listener enthralled with the momentous sound. The use of the tremolo picked parts aren’t just your average cold elements that are pushed forward they are well balanced against thick rhythmic bass and rhythm guitar moments. This opens up this track in a whole fresh new light giving way to a more constructed and well rounded sound. The battle between the razor sharp tremolo parts and the crushing death like metal riffs are seamlessly melded together with not a hint of struggle of blending the two genres into one. I also have to give it to the drumming on this track it really drives and shapes this already amazing opening, this is already starting with great promise. There is also a slight presence of DSBM to this in parts coupled with some slow Doom encrusted breaks showing once again the prowess of this entities writing and musicianship skill.
As track one finishes it allows us to glide gracefully into the second “Dirge For The Devoured“. This track was taken from the second Demo/ E.P. of the same name. This stunning track was a monumentus shift when I first heard it. Opening on a much slower pace this slow yet heavy track really does highlight the skill level. Bringing in a much more DSBM quality coupled with the slow and heavier drumming style in the opening segments. That is until the midsection where the speed is amplified into a full throttle assault. Then comes that beautifully ambient synth and guitar section highlighting that haunting DSBM style which brings us right back to a slow and heavy paced outro making this a definite well rounded track.
This plays beautifully into the third track “Eldritch Curse” taken from the same demo as its predecessor track. This is fast paced yet with a almost more upbeat feel to it (if that can even be said when talking about this genre of music) it. In my last review I drew comparison to that of Gorgoroth’s “Sign Of An Open Eye” and listening to it again you can definitely hear the inspiration here again. Even just in the tone of the guitars. Once again the tempo changes within this song is what keeps you literally glued to the spot. This is still one of my favourite tracks by this entity and its the closing of the track that brings it. With that really heavy break in the closing segments, you can really feel the hate and anger surging in both the riffs and vocal work. Sheer perfection on this.
This leads us into yet another slower track after the ferocity of the closing previous track. Here we have yet another new one and the title of the album “Haunting Echoes” the opening is slow and semi distorted in the rhythm of the riff. This holds many references to that of the DSBM band Shining, just in the similar style of playing and beat progression within the opening. The riff is very reminiscent of
“Ytterligare ett steg närmare total jävla utfrysning” from the V. Halmstad album. However right in the midsection the tempo changes once again to that of a more Iron Maiden kind of riff bringing in some classic “Run To The Hills” vibes with that galloping riff and beat combined. As i write this you would feel like it just doesn’t fit the sound of those together. However trust me it is literally blended in the most seamlessly way possible, this comes also complete with another breakdown that is very “Wrest” of “Leviathan” in style from the vocals to the closing viscous riff. Honestly I’m so lost for words at present and we are only at the half way point.
“Contract from Below” is the fifth track on this monolith of an album so far. This being taken from the fourth and final demo in the entries Arsenal of the same name.
Again having reviewed this previously its great to hear it again. One thing I’ve noticed especially on the tracks taken from the demos is just how much sharper the older demo tracks now sound. These have definitely had new life breathed back into them and the transformation however slight it may be has been fabulous. Those little tweaks have allowed for a certain vigour to come creeping out. Especially on this one as once again the entity brings those “Shining” similar breakdowns into the tracks. There is a level of elegance added both in production and even the writing and musicianship on these tracks. These aren’t direct lifts, but a definite homage that’s for sure.
“The Mentor’s Skull” is the sixth track and is taken from the third demo “Mirror Of Oblivion” where this track closed the demo we see it at a more mid placed position showing that wherever placed within a listing it fits and works well. Much the same as the musical influences that get melded together in these tracks. The mixture of black metal and what I can only describe as N.W.O.B.H.M influences ooze from this track and turn it into an instant classic.
“Pernicious Deed” is the seventh track here and yet another new one for the fold. This is definitely different to what we’ve already experienced another slow and grinding track this really brings in many influences and might I say that amongst it is some heavy Nirvana influence in both the tuning and in the closing we are treated to a very similar riff as Nirvana’s “Serve The Servants” taken from their In Utero album. Wether this was intentional or just purely happenstance that this occurred is well a feat of genius, as mixing the two genres has never really been attempted in my knowledge.
“Petrified Forest” is the eighth track to be added and brings a beautiful ambient yet gothic feel to it. This displays some more talent from this entity and his non stop thirst of capturing the most in sound. The addition of this is definitely a welcome break from all the ferocity. This stunning little homage to some Dungeon synth and even a classic instrumental band called “Toccata” and a fave track of mine called “Sky”.
As we exit out of the ambience and bliss full sounds of the Petrified Forest, were thrown right back into the closing track “The Wrath of The Lamb” taken from the entities first ever Demo it was here that I became devoted to the sound and incredible passion behind this act. Once again either closing this track to open or close an album works stunningly. Once again the production has just elevated this track once again. The little subtle tweaks have just exemplified the sound even further. Making each sound sharper and just that little more distinguishable. From the snap of the drums to the crushing riffs and rich tones from the bass. This track closes the album beautifully and effortlessly.
In all its easy to see that the hard work has indeed paid off and in dividends too. D.F. has literally created an album that has some of his key playing tracks from a selection of four demos. The only thing missing were the key new tracks that just joined this all together to make a brand new works. This has definitely seen the entity pushed hard and it has definitely shown. Fusing influences from multiple genres whilst creating and crafting his own unique sound. I feel this has definitely pushed the boundaries within B.M. genre and I feel that it’s definitely set a high bar to pass for the remainder of the 2023 underground to achieve. When I conduct my end of year list best believe there is going to be a war for the top spot and you can bet this will be a huge contender. So as I gather my parchment and quill place my heavy hood over my medium/ well done Skull I cast a cold eye socket back at the entity from D.F. and bow graciously and offer a salute. We’ll done sir. We’ll done. As I slope off into the shadows. a slight grin on my face. I know that he did what he set out to do and achieved. Best hope the rest can too. 2023 is under way and the underdog you all slept on is up in front with a clear lead.
Haunting Echoes is out now