The letters from Lucifer to archangels Gabriel and Michael after his fall to Earth as reimagined by Mark Twain, all embraced by a dark and dense atmosphere crafted by an amazing project led by veteran musician Tony Petrocelly.
“Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very, very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm.” – Letters from the Earth, by Mark Twain
Taking inspiration from Letters from the Earth, a posthumously published work of American author Mark Twain (1835–1910) with the title story consisting of eleven letters written by the archangel Satan after the fall (as he views the rise and fall of Christ) to archangels Gabriel and Michael about his observations on the curious proceedings of earthly life and the nature of man’s religion, The Grand Machination, the brand new EP by American Death Metal band Construct Of Lethe, will fulfill your needs of well-written extreme music with a dense and meaningful storyline complementing all the reverberation and aggressiveness flowing from the instruments.
Although the band is based in the city of Woodbridge, located in Northern Virginia, in the United States, Construct of Lethe are an international musical collective representing both the simultaneous culmination and dissolution of numerous bands and projects such as Against the Gods, Bethledeign, Xaoc, Dead Syndicate and Pain Tank. Formed in 2010 by multi-instrumentalist Tony Petrocelly, the band released on the first day of 2016 their debut full-length album, entitled Corpsegod, but it seems Tony and his henchmen didn’t want to wait too long to provide their fans another blast of their technical and dark Death Metal, culminating with the release of The Grand Machination in the beginning of October. Featuring an obscure cover art by Paul Gerrard and with vocalist David Schmidt reinterpreting and perverting Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth, The Grand Machination brings forward a fresh view of the story for the ones who have already read the book, and a fantastic introduction to anyone who’s in touch with it for the very first time.
In the opening track, titled Lux in Tenebris (“light in the darkness”), an ominous intro is joined by dark and heavy guitars before a demonic fusion of Death and Doom Metal impregnates the air, with Dave sounding like a poet from the underworld declaiming the song’s beautiful lyrics (“Embrace me Thanatos that I might fall / Seduce me Hypnos that I might lap the silver waters and forget / But lo, at his heel bone I stood shackled and forced to witness / My glass eyes were held open by another’s will”). In addition, veteran drummer Kevin Talley, who has already worked with renowned bands such as Suffocation, Six Feet Under and DevilDriver as well as underground bands reviewed by The Headbanging Moose like Omega Diatribe and ThrOes, makes sure his beats reach the perfect level of complexity and obscurity requested, enhancing the song’s impact on the listener.
Death and Doom Metal are then joined by hints of Black Metal mainly due to the blast beats by Kevin, consequently making the whole ambience even more frightful, in Ascendit Ex Inferos (“he ascended from hell”), with its lyrics reaching a whole new level of obscurity (“Hear uttered a child’s creation / Upon festering incantations carried with miasmic breath / Logic castration, a eunuch of natural order”). Furthermore, it’s Tony who steals the spotlight with his cutting riffs in this maleficent tune, supported by Patrick Bonvin and his excellent solos. Then it’s time for the entire band to increase their brutality and fire the most demonic of all songs, titled Apotheosis Calvarium, where Death and Black Metal are united in a putrid and menacing way and Patrick once again delivers his share of amazing guitar solos, while Dave is the devil incarnate on vocals just the way the concept of the album demands.
Expandentes Putrescat (“spreading rot”) is where Construct Of Lethe get truly blackened, an intricate composition showcasing bestial drums and flammable guitars, surrounded by a hellish atmosphere that goes on until the song’s eerie conclusion; followed by Bibere Venenum in Auro (“drink poison in gold”), a traditional Death Metal song with highlights to the grotesque growls by Dave and the barbaric aura crafted by Kevin behind his drums. Yet again, Patrick keeps firing his old school solos nonstop, adding more electricity to this dense and somber chant. Lastly, the title-track The Grand Machination brings more darkness to the listener with its melodious guitars and Doom Metal-inspired drumming. The second half of the song leans towards a crude mix of Black and Death Metal, with its neck-breaking riff accompanying Dave and his Stygian poetic growls as the proper conclusion to this disturbing album.
You can visit the band’s official Facebook for more details on their music, listen to their obscure Death Metal on their YouTube channel (where you can take a shot at the entire EP, by the way), and you can grab a digital copy of the album at their BandCamp page, which includes instrumental demo versions of two of the regular album songs with a Cannibal Corpse-inspired vibe as bonus tracks. In Letters from the Earth, there’s an excerpt about the Bible that says “it is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.” Well, maybe we should say the same about The Grand Machination, adding to that the album’s excellent riff-writing and demonic ambience. I bet Mark Twain and Lucifer would both agree with us on that.
Best moments of the album: Apotheosis Calvarium and The Grand Machination.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2016 Edgewood Arsenal Records
1. Lux in Tenebris 4:48
2. Ascendit Ex Inferos 2:42
3. Apotheosis Calvarium 5:26
4. Expandentes Putrescat 5:03
5. Bibere Venenum in Auro 3:16
6. The Grand Machination 4:13
Digital Edition bonus tracks
7. Apotheosis Calvarium (demo version) 2:12
8. Bibere Venenum in Auro (demo version) 2:15
Dave Schmidt – vocals
Tony Petrocelly – guitar, bass
Patrick Bonvin – lead guitars
Kevin Talley – drums