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Ceremony - Tyranny From Above
Review: Uniting a vision of nothingness with an ascendant hope of redemption, Ceremony hybridize blasting American-style death metal with the melodic architectures of epic beauty that have traditionally defined the European metal experience, creating a fusion of all death metal traditions that more accurately expresses its paradox: recognizing the cold hard mortal truth of life, but seeking a creative construction within it that escapes from the confines of being afraid of that reality (our human problem; our fear). With former Sinister bassist Ron van der Pol blasting alongside other experienced musicians, it is not surprising this band took a more aggressive tack to the genre, ranking with Atrocity and Seance in menacing musical battery.
Songs might be understood as clinal manifestations of theme as expressed in circular clusters of riff: each cumulative pass adds a new resolution to a phrasal chain of riffs, causing the song to advance through cyclic augmentation of a basic theme; each chain begins with the strings of alternating strums and recursive offbeat counterparts to them that as a pyramid of interactions resemble computer code, with the smallest elements forwarding their conclusions to larger logical containers. Explosive drumming of a style that varies blast beats covering segments of each bar according to a meta-rhythm applied to several themes builds up clenched, precise rhythmic tension which releases into a breakdown dictated by elegantly-selected enigmatic melodic phrases which simultaneously descend tonally and aesthetically, create a sense of rising. It is a triumph of wisdom in negativity, ascending as descent is seen by those who are not initiated.
Instrumentalism exceeds standards of the genre at the time and unlike the fleet-fingered off-beat distractions of metalcore, is applied in synchronizing instrumental effect without duplicating notes. Vocals blurt with the harsh throated compression of air that one associates with the sound people make when they are shot; a feral, gnarled sensation coats the song as vocals bear down over time. Instrumental trills from bass, and lead guitar that like a commentary on riffs overcomes its own irony to find a fullness of contradiction, and then to vanish into diminishing harmonies of the melodic line to come, accentuate the progress between sections of song. While there is plenty of the Americanisms of pulsating percussive death metal, the fullness of the Wagnerian staging of phrases in symbolism of metaphysical knowledge gives this release a profundity experienced by few from this generation. While it remains lesser known, this obscure work gains listening value through its subleties of melody and structure, even though its militant style evokes anything but the idea of finer distinctions.