Seattle death metal veterans, Drawn and Quartered, formed in 1992 and released their first album in 1999. Now on their eighth full-length, the trio of Herb Burke (vocals and bass), Kelly Shane Kuciemba (guitars) and Simon Dorfman (drums) have started to wonder if their stalwart status merits a wider self-belief in what they do. Their line-up remains consistent, the songs are as unforgiving as ever, and their brand of death metal is impervious to any trends after the year of 1992. With Bolt Thrower no longer around and the old school making a comeback, they might spy a gap to fill with the same alacrity as the protagonist in their ‘Necrophile Decapitator’ song from 2003’s Extermination Revelry LP.
On first listen, you’ll lament that you’ve heard this type of raw death metal a million times before. Indeed, streaming this record as a sideshow while you go about your daily affairs is a bad idea. It might be a modest thirty-eight minutes in length, but it will sound like one long blast of indistinguishable noise if you disrespect it by playing it as background music. The key here is to give Congregation Pestilence the attention it deserves by sitting down and following each song in chronological order. Then it will make sense. Listen to opener, ‘Death’s Disciple’, and raise your eyebrows at the chaotic cross between Revenge and Morbid Angel. The dirty down-tuned riffs are hard to control in the mix and toxic in the way they pollute the audio assault, yet the blast beats are crisp and violent. This is slimy death metal like Dipygus with the sinister edge of France’s Merycless.
It might take you a few tracks to figure out the essence of the Drawn and Quartered sound. Then it hits you. This is death metal stripped of its thrash origins, sabotaged on purpose to garner the same aesthetic as a classic Immolation record. ‘Oblivion Pilgrimage’ is morbid beyond belief. Even the pinch-harmonics capture a sense of capitulation and despair. ‘Dispensation (Rise of the Antichrist)’ is just as gratuitous. The mystical fade-in and dissonant chords work well with the churn of the bass root notes and guttural vocals. On ‘Carnage Atrocity’ they contrast the rapid drums with angular guitars that refuse to get lost in the speed of the composition. What you see is what you get with this band – three hairy, middle-aged men who probably work as truckers in their day jobs. The music is as unsentimental and intimidating as their long beards and the obscure grindcore t-shirts underneath their musty leather jackets.
The only drawback with their approach is the one-dimensional aspect of the vocals. These are like a less motivated version of Karl Willetts from Bolt Thrower – all lip action and no throat power to lift them above the filthy guitars shattering your ear drums. A better range and stronger commitment to ferocious screams would raise the likes of ‘Proliferation of Disease’ and the ceremonial death-doom of closing track, ‘Congregation Pestilence’, to a higher level of quality. Give us more venom not less!
It might not be an immediate sensation but Drawn and Quartered’s eighth offering has many rewards if you listen to it without distractions. They’re not re-inventing death metal, but they do a good job of keeping the more savage side of the genre alive.
Release Date: 02/07/2021
Record Label: Krucyator Productions
Standout tracks: Oblivion Pilgrimage, Dispensation (Rise of the Antichrist), Rotting Abomination (The Cleansing)
Suggested Further Listening: Mercyless – The Mother of All Plagues (2020), Immolation – Failures for Gods (1999), Dipygus – Bush Meat (2021)