Condemner – Burning the Decadent (2018)

Death metal evades acceptance through its embrace of the primitive and threatening. When you take highly detail-oriented thinking and apply it to that basic approach, the result flowers into hidden complexity and covert beauty. Condemner attempts to make interesting music within the most primitive, grinding, and nihilistic death metal vocabulary and ends with a highly listenable album.

Burning the Decadent creates itself in the style that hybridizes very early death metal, perhaps Celtic Frost or the Paul Ledney years of Revenant, with the newer charging war metal and outliers like Demoncy who make primal riffs into grandiloquent scenes of mythical conflict. Expect chromatic riffs and basic chord progressions twisted into phrases which engage in combat like dragons wrestling over an eternal flame, within the context of high-intensity rhythms and vocals that emerge from throats lightly seared like a good steak.

Songs typically begin developing with a riff that serves as theme, and then comment on it with internal dialogue before moving to a counterpoint theme. If the main riff is a two-chord grinding minimalistic distillation, then it will face off with something slower and more melodic, or architectural like the presentation space of a great house or temple; the listener will arrive at the point of appreciating it through a series of shorter riffs and variations which play off the idea in the founding riff to give it depth so that when the contrast arrives, it will be breathtaking and abrupt, like the final twist in a grand battle poem.

In homage to the ancients, Burning the Decadent features a stripped-down presentation in which each piece provides some role to what comes before it, what comes after it, and its context in the whole song. If riffs are relative, these are relative to the set of all things, and that makes them expressive. Should we be forced to offer some criticism, some riffs may utilize chromatic progressions too much or jump around the scale in obvious ways, but this adds to the primitive aura.

Following up on a successful demo three years ago, this album shows Condemner reaching more confidence and even more tightly woven riff contextures making each song compact and effective. It reaches back into the old school and keeps it contemporary without losing its unique voice.

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7 thoughts on “Condemner – Burning the Decadent (2018)”

  1. LordKrumb says:

    Intriguing. I’ll definitely give this a listen or two later.

    Did Paul Ledney record anything with Revenant?

    1. Robert says:

      Yes. He was on the early demos I believe. He played drums.

      1. maelstrrom says:

        John McEntee was also in the band early on.

    2. Accidental Descent (........of the testicles) says:

      Yes; he also wrote the lyrics on “Onwards to Golgotha”, and composed most of the guitar parts.

  2. Flying Kites says:

    Excellent taste, Brett!

    More on Bundkampf, https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/disease-to-divide

    You’ve introduced this a while ago, that high tuned snare is killer.

  3. Inherited Bowel Explanation says:

    I wish they’d been spelled

    “CONDEMNOR”

  4. Some parts remind me of Soulside Journey, which is cool. An absolute shame that the drums are programmed though. If you can’t find a real drummer, your music is not ready for the world.

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