Sicktus : After their really impressive debut 'Nightmare Vortex' in 2013, we only got a mini CD ('Ravenous') in 2014 to get our Slaughterday fix and we got no dose whatsoever in 2015. So it is about time to snort up on some Slaughterday once more! Luckily, here comes the second full-length by this German duo, called 'Laws Of The Occult'. They have really put the bar way up there with 'Nightmare Vortex', so I am curious to find out whether the band can once again reach those heights.
Do not let the peaceful strumming of the intro fool you: the ingredients these guys use are still the same. Old Scandinavian style death, mixed with some filthy Autopsy-style stuff and thrown into an oozing, blubbering meat grinder. The result is at times dragging, at times tearing and raging, at times grooving an almost always catchy death from the days of yore. Besides Autopsy, I hear a lot of Death influences on 'Laws Of The Occult' as well, especially on the first half of the album - the first two, maybe three Death albums that is, mind you. Pace-wise, the band turn more to the midtempo and even slower, deathdoomish speeds, usually to emerge in an Autopsy-esque gallop. The faster bits have a strong thrashy vibe to them and the change of pace makes for some neat contrasts.
There are some flaws, or things I would have liked better. They could have given the old, big, red groove button a push more often. And I would have preferred some more uptempo stuff. Not all songs are of consistent quality; the slower 'Torn By The Beast' is a very strong midpoint for the album, but the next track ('Church Of the Dread') is one of the less strong: the pace changing just does not work as well for me and this kind of ruins the flow of the album. The song, or more specific the composition, feels like it was a bit hurried, could have done with more attention to reach its full potential. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me on that, but I personally think this song should have been left off the album. 'Laws Of The Occult' finishes with a Hallows Eve cover, 'Plunging To Megadeath'. Not only a very original choice, but also a very brutal, modern translation of this already thirty years old song (1985). A very cool way to (re)discover old bands / albums!
The overall impression: yes, 'Laws Of The Occult' is a strong, mature, oldschool death album. Yet... I am left with a vague sense of disappointment, which is probably for 99,9% due to my own high expectations. The balance of the album has shifted a tad too much towards the slower end of the spectrum, which leads to leass catchiness and groove. Maybe my disappointment is best described when I say that 'Laws Of The Occult' feels so... serious. I kind of miss the fun and self-mockery, I guess. Buy hey, don't let my vague ramblings stop you from checking out this album! 'Laws Of The Occult' will be out on CD and LP.