A crushing and intricate album of “Organic Dissident Death Metal” made in Belgium, heavily influenced by esoteric, alchemical principles and alternative history.
There’s nothing better than some high-quality “Organic Dissident Death Metal” made in Belgium to warm up a cold December day, right? If what I’m saying to you makes no sense, wait until your let your ears be flooded with the craziness, intricacy and rage blasted by Brussels-based Progressive Death Metal quartet Moss Upon The Skull, who are ready to crush mankind with their brand new opus titled In Vengeful Reverence. After two promising EP’s, the band is back with a revelatory first full-length, heavily influenced by esoteric, alchemical principles and alternative history, as put forward by luminaries like Michael Tsarion, Terrence McKenna, Aleister Crowley and John Dee. “The album title refers to dealing with frustration, hardship or threat, not in an emotional way but with serene rationality, in order to overcome the adversity and remove the cause of the challenge,” explains singer and guitarist Jef Van de Weghe. “The blue flame concept informing the album represents the release of anger and frustration in a constructive and creative way. It makes sense to channel these energies into manipulating the world around us to serve our purpose, call it magick or willpower.”
Brought into being in 2010 from the same swamps on which Brussels was founded, with the intent of playing unconventional Progressive Death Metal with a strong focus on philosophy, spiritualism, decay, and the mysteries of nature and the after-life, the band comprised of Jo Willems on lead vocals, the aforementioned Jef Van de Weghe on vocals and guitar, Mathijs Provoost on bass and vocals, and Jense Philips on drums enrich the intricate structures of their music with Black Metal nuances and unique melodic flourishes, while a superlative and overtly technical rhythm section works in unison with inventive guitars, aggressive growls and sporadic dark synths. Featuring a minimalistic and very stylish cover art by JF Lemay Illustration, In Vengeful Reverence has everything it takes to become a cult album in the underground extreme music scene, hitting you hard with an avalanche of the esoteric and pulverizing music by those Belgian metallers.
Groovy and rumbling waves permeate the air in the opening track Reverse Celebration before Jo begins growling deeply and Jense starts smashing his drums in a precise and progressive manner, not to mention the Cannibal Corpse-inspired riffs by Jef. Leaning towards classic Death Metal, Disintegrated brings forward an entertaining fusion of the crushing sonority blasted by bands like Gojira, Deicide and Unleash, among others. Furthermore, Jo doesn’t get tired of roaring the song’s old school lyrics like a beast (“In submission disaffected / Forever they scorn defeat / Through fire resurrected / No longer their pride must bleed / Raging essence / Conceiled within / Released once more /Consumed by sin”); whereas Impending Evil exhales pure Progressive Death Metal, with highlights to the sonic extravaganza delivered by Jense on drums and the always intricate and cutting riffs and solos by Jef.
Back to a more straightforward and aggressive sonority, the quartet fires huge dosages of rage and insanity through their incendiary riffs and beats in Lair Of The Hypocrite, with Jo leading his horde by growling deeper and deeper as the music progresses. And how about more dissident, obscure and visceral Death Metal for your avid ears? That’s what the band offers in Serving The Elite, with Jef firing his classic, complex riffs and solos while Mathijs makes sure the atmosphere remains dense and thunderous with his bass lines; and they get even more wicked and progressive in Peristalith, with the stringed duo Jef and Mathijs hammering their instruments mercilessly, also presenting some of the most complex drumming of the whole album.
The title-track In Vengeful Reverence keeps the level of dementia and electricity extremely high, with Jo once again effectively delivering his harsh gnarls while Mathijs and Jense are bestial with their respective bass punches and demonic beats. Then we have The Serpent Scepter, slower and more introspective, bringing elements from Sludge Metal and Post-Metal, and albeit not as compelling as its predecessors, it’s still solid and heavy-as-hell, also presenting austere lyrics (“Deception / The treachery runs deep / Caduceus / Sends the awake to sleep / Announcing their demise / Mercury about to rise / Announcing their demise / Silencing their cries”), and Spheres Of Malevolence, the shortest of all tracks and a lesson in Progressive Death Metal, brings forward rumbling bass lines, detailed and piercing riffs and beats, and another rabid performance by Jo on vocals. Lastly, it’s time for the quartet to deliver one final onrush of progressiveness, rage and lunacy entitled Unseen, Yet Allseeing, with Mathijs and Jense dictating the song’s frantic rhythm beautifully.
In a nutshell, although Belgium might be a small country compared to behemoths like the United States, France and Germany, they’re surely a beyond prolific country when it comes to heavy music, with Moss Upon The Skull being another amazing depiction of what Belgian metal is all about. Hence, don’t forget to show your utmost support to those four talented metallers hailing from “le pays du surréalisme” by following them on Facebook, and by purchasing In Vengeful Reference (available for a full listen on YouTube) from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page, from the Season of Mist’s webstore (US and Europe), or from Amazon, letting their Organic Dissident Death Metal penetrate deep inside your mind and, therefore, generating some nice and fresh moss upon your own skull.
Best moments of the album: Disintegrated, Lair Of The Hypocrite and Spheres Of Malevolence.
Worst moments of the album: The Serpent Scepter.
Released in 2018 I, Voidhanger Records
1. Reverse Celebration 4:16
2. Disintegrated 3:21
3. Impending Evil 4:59
4. Lair Of The Hypocrite 4:30
5. Serving The Elite 4:21
6. Peristalith 3:55
7. In Vengeful Reverence 3:49
8. The Serpent Scepter 5:22
9. Spheres Of Malevolence 2:46
10. Unseen, Yet Allseeing 5:33
Jo Willems – vocals
Jef Van de Weghe – guitars, clean/backing vocals
Mathijs Provoost – bass, clean/backing vocals
Jense Philips – drums