For my review this time on the new Celestial Grave titled Vitriolic Atonement, we’re headed to the land of thousand lakes, Finland, or Suomi Finland Perkele as Impaled Nazarene let the blackened outside world know back in 1994. But unlike Impaled Nazarene, our subject today cannot be considered veterans of the Finnish black metal scene.
Even so, the sound and quality of musicianship shown on their demo, Burial Ground Trace, in 2016 would lead you to believe these three guys have been grinding it out for some time. With their demo already being on par with or above what most bands are putting out, anticipation was building for their first EP. Pvtrefactio saw the light of day, or the dark of the tomb, in 2017, as the band kept true to their lo-fi values so apparent on their demo. The table was set for their debut album.
The first album, Secular Flesh, was released through Iron Bonehead Production, a well-respected name among the blackend underground horde. What separates their full-length debut from their earlier material is the more drawn out songs, allowing breathing space to incorporate a vaster palette of extreme metal. They’re apparently letting themselves be influenced by the strong Finnish death doom scene, Hooded Menace in particular comes to mind. And when it’s blended with our beloved black metal, it makes for a compelling listen.
The Album – Vitriolic Atonement
Ok then, onto the difficult second album. They are now signed to The Sinister Flame, a Finnish label that deals mostly with black and death metal, a match forged in the pits of hell.
What initially grabs my attention is the stunning cover art. Abstract enough, so you have to make up your mind of what it depicts, it’s in style with the album name Vitriolic Atonement, an oxymoron, a malignant reconciliation. Is this duality apparent in the music? According to their Bandcamp it is;
“Vitriolic Atonement is a sonic and visual exploration of the dreadful yet beautiful aspects of life and death,” they say. “It was a comprehensive work for us, where not only the music and lyrics but also the artwork were really central from the start.”https://celestialgravefinland.bandcamp.com/album/vitriolic-atonement
Let’s find out ourselves, track by track:
The sound of a guitar being turned on and shrieking through the amp lets you know this is about to go down, it makes me feel like I’m there at rehearsals with them. The drums kick in with open hi-hats washing over me, the rest of the band joins the party, and I’m in the front row with a beer in my hand, screaming at the top of my lungs. This song sets the tone well for what’s to come, already showcasing galloping faster parts alongside more elongated doom riffs and stomping drums towards the end.
2. Cadaverous Solace
The title of the second track gives me associations back to the album art, the song itself opens with a whirlwind of riffs and drumming before settling into a nice crust era Darkthrone tempo. The cavernous death doom vocals is accompanied by a riff that lingers on top throughout the first minutes. We are then placed in the front cart of a rollercoaster ride consisting of swift tempo changes, obnoxious guitars and deranged vocals that never feels contrived but rather fitting of their sound.
Acoustic guitar? Two acoustic guitars? Have they lost the plot? Hmm, this is rather soothing, I must admit. Oh wait, what’s this? Great, mid-tempo black metal enters the room and demands my full attention, I’m now reminded of what keeps my callous heart beating. The different parts here blend well together and this being the longest track on the album, they all get their time to breathe. One of the less adventurous songs, but nonetheless one of my favorites.
4. The Abyss Exhales
Back to blast beats and the voices of two demons is fighting for my devote attention. This transitions into a post black metal vibe before it hits me with that sweet black trash flavored with some mighty tasty guitar work. The taste of licks to come.
A lengthy but interesting build up to set us up for singing? Make no mistake, this is still the voice of a possessed critter rather than a divine angel, but there is actual melody to the vocals. This makes for a very intriguing change, and even the following passage with female spoken vocals does not sound out of place. A nice guitar solo towards the end cements this as a standout track in terms of breaking their already abstract shaped mold.
6. Radiant Tides Below
The sixth track and closer; will they stick the landing? Opening with the most dissonant riffs on the album, they certainly are giving it their all. It quickly melts into blast beats and death doom vocals, alternated with more trashing parts and shouty singing. This has now become an amalgamation of all that keeps me coming back to black and extreme metal. As the final notes on the album escapes my speakers and take refuge deep within in my mind, I’m on my phone looking for flights to Finland, perkele…
Do you like black metal? And do you think Darkthrone can do no wrong? Do you find beauty in riffs and screams coming at you from deep within a cave? Do you hide during the day and come crawling out at night? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, give this a listen and let us know in the comments what you think. If you don’t like it, just take it easy, a medical team is on its way.
All jokes aside, they say it best themselves:
“Vitriolic Atonement goes through different sacraments and rites, inhale and take in the aspects of darkness, death, and the beyond that are in reach on this mortal plane.”https://celestialgravefinland.bandcamp.com/album/vitriolic-atonement
I highly recommend you lend your ear to this band and this album in particular.
1. Eucharist 05:57
2. Cadaverous Solace 06:03
3. Clemency 07:54
4. The Abyss Exhales 03:33
5. Exaltation 05:31
6. Radiant Tides Below 05:02
Music and social links: