South America's heavy metal community has proven time and time again a hotbed for visceral brutality chock full of integrity. Brazil's Dark Celebration is no exception, speeding through eight songs in 29 minutes on their third full-length Phlegeton: The Transcendence of Demon Lords. Fast and raw, it is a magnificent return to the glory days of melodic death metal, a world where catchiness and cutting metal collide.
Hitting the perfect mix of murk and melody, Dark Celebration writes memorable numbers not unlike classic At The Gates or Dark Tranquility. While most of today's melodic death metal bands ply their craft with sugary hooks or obnoxious breakdowns, Dark Tranquility panders towards neither trend by focusing solely on blistering death metal.
"Reversed Creation" kicks off the album with a storm of blastbeats and chilling tremolo melodies. The low-end stomp soon coalesces into a flurry of fiery melody, a veritable firebomb of sound. As the embers die down, the original charge of crushing death metal returns, ending the song on a pulverizing note.
"Sulphur," meanwhile, spews exuberant riffs and breakneck guitar harmonies, the two wrestling in a display of aural violence. Winding down into a slowly-burning chorus replete with squealing guitars and churning blastbeats, the song ends with a spiraling guitar solo which is amongst the album's best.
Follow-up "Ocularis Infernum" presents itself in much the same light, poignant melodies struggling against a torrent of molten, noxious riffs. Guitars gallop alongside furious drumming, conjuring an atmosphere of joyous warfare and reckless abandon. Cut in half by two raging guitar solos, it is a song which hits hard not once but twice.
"Infra Dark" enlarges the violence quotient, upping the ante with a maelstrom of punishing percussion and rapidly-morphing guitar assaults. Moments of ecstatic shredding are lost in a hailstorm of manic insanity, the song climaxing with a steamroller riff squashing even the hardest of eardrums.
"Legacy of Fire" pummels with its ever-shifting vocals and fluid death metal rhythms. Twisting and turning, it careens towards the edge of sanity before snapping back into a brilliant, mid-paced section fit for raucous headbanging.
After this, "Razor's Dance" slices and dices with its stabbing leads, the melodies so sharp they pierce right through listeners' cores. Heavily indebted towards the NWOBHM movement, the song's twin guitar attack is a knife fight of unhinged melodies and stomping riffs.
Last but not least, "Souls Harvester Machine" rolls out with a whirlpool of drum and guitars, the whole mix collapsing into a muscular beatdown. A shower of mournful melodies marks the album's final charge, one last rendition of the chorus finishing things off.
Though undeniably monstrous, Dark Celebration never sacrifices the almighty guitar hook at the altar of savagery. Throw in a tinge of black metal blasphemy, and the end result is a killer slice of the genre at its best. Try this if you believe good melodic death metal is a misnomer in the new millennium.
Legacy of Fire
Souls Harvester Machine