Monday, June 6, 2011

Vengeful - The Omnipresent Curse

Ironically, with new albums leaking and releasing daily by titans like Origin, Revolting, Blood Freak, Septic Flesh, and even Bon Iver, I'm currently enthralled with an album released back in 2009. Looking back on it, 2009 was probably the best year for music of the '00 decade. Anyway in mid-April I saw Sepultura, Belphegor, Neuraxis, Keep Of Kalessin, and a bunch of other bands. The show was pretty sweet. Neuraxis was a stunning display of technicality, Belphegor was awesome, Sepultura was filled with energy, and Keep Of Kalessin was, well, awful (as expected). Sepultura got the crowd moving so much that even the old-tyme moshers in their mid-forties were getting riled up. The concert is beside the point. I walked away with an album from the merch booth that is slowly becoming one of my favorite death metal albums of the last few years:

Vengeful's The Omnipresent Curse

Apparently the immensely talented bassist from Neuraxis was in the band at one point or another which is why it was at the merch booth. I had downloaded the album before (like with everything I happen to find of remote musical interest on the internet) but had only given it very seldom listens, which is a regret now that I've realized it's greatness. Anyway this album is a solid slab of dark, sinister death metal that'll leave you feeling uneasy at your core.

This album is surprisingly tough to write about. I usually tend to find albums that resonate with me well to be tougher to write about due to the feel and sights I associate with the music. That can lead to some awfully vague descriptions of the music when I start throwing other sensory experiences I associate with the album into the review. So, if I begin talking about weird shit like daemonic portals opening up and swallowing my soul, you know what I'm getting at.

Vengeful's debut, Karma, was a pretty decent release that held a lot of promise for the French-Canadian metallers. In the two years that followed the release of Karma, Vengeful underwent several lineup changes with members from big names in Canadian (tech) metal, such as Neuraxis, Atheretic, and Negativa. They also developed their semi-standard sound in numerous ways to create an ominous, distorted whirlwind of sonic hatred. The Omnipresent Curse was the result of that development, and from the moment "Forsaken" hammers through your skull, it's easy to tell that this album is dark in an Immolation-esque sense. In fact a lot of the songs almost feel like they could've been produced by late '90s-early '00s Immolation. The drumming has a very pounding nature reminiscent of Alex Hernandez's work on Close To A World Below. Etienne Gallo's somewhat free-form tom and cymbal use (ala Ulcerate) on this release is phenomenal and adds a lot to the music, especially on "Anguish" and the 21-minute closing track "Transcending."

LeBlanc's is no slouch on the guitar either. Opener "Forsaken" culminates in a memorable riff littered with harmonics and a brutal low-end. Olivier Pinard's bass talent also stands out as an extremely low, dry roar in the very mid-ranged mix. "Detention" is one of The Omnipresent Curse's highlights. An underlying chug and several dissonant chords later and you're gliding along into the mouth of a colossal black monstrosity as it consumes reality. There's a lot of dissonance scattered throughout Vengeful's sophomore effort, but I've always been particularly fond of songwriters who use the tensions and accidentals to their advantage, especially when it's in a non-traditional sense. "Transcending" is an interesting track in that it's 21-minutes long and manages to still be interesting and cohesive. Few death metal bands can pull that off properly, but leave it to the French-Canadians (known for being awesome; see: Gorguts, Quo Vadis, etc.) to pull it off.

However I wouldn't go as far to say that this is a wholly original work. The overwhelming similarities to early Immolation are there directly in the music. In fact I can't shake the damn image of mid-era Immolation playing these exact riffs and songs. Perhaps not with the acoustics on "Lapsus," but I can hear it in the jazz-influenced drumming, the guitarwork, and the overall feel of the album. Is that a bad thing? Let me ask you this: do you like Immolation? If the answer is yes (which it fucking should be) then you will like The Omnipresent Curse without a doubt. The whole package reeks of dissonant chaotic evil, and what's not to love about that even if it sounds like a solid imitation of one of the greatest death metal bands ever? Vengeful is proof that original work is not a necessity for greatness, but a bit more originality never hurt anyone.

9.25 out of 10

For some reason this album kicks major ass in 5.1. The use of each channel is perfect. Also a third album is being produced now by the band. I'm most certainly excited!


1. Forsaken

2. Beholder

3. Anguish

4. Detention

5. Lapsus

6. Nightmare

7. Sanctioned

8. Transcending

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