There is no “Houston sound,” but Houston bands are converging on a sound that is pure old school doom/death metal with a tendency to praise Satan. Part of it must come from living in the Bible Belt, surrounded by heavy refinery machinery and the incessant roaring of traffic. Another part may be that mythological hell is actually in Houston. Hell is described as a blazing hot place full of demonic beings, horrible stench and infernal rage. If you’ve ever driven on I-45 during a Friday afternoon…
Much like spinoff bands Blaspherian and Morbus 666, and fellow old school death metal worshippers War Master, Imprecation makes violent death metal that is not especially fast so much as it is varied in dynamic and tempo. These songs approach like a vaporous ghost, then enclose the listener and then clench them into tight sequences of dark cadence. Simple power chord riffs fit together like an apocalyptic Jenga puzzle and bring the listener through labyrinthine contortions to a place of inner clarity and, quite honestly, Satanic hatred.
With its use of selected keyboards to highlight the evil of particular passages, and extensive variation in riff shape not only between songs but through the life of each song, this style of old school death metal fits best with bands like Infester or Sinister who bent simple but twisted riffs into a language of their own. Nonetheless, the release has a distinctive middle-of-the-United-States sound, with broad open spaces and lurching trudge rhythms that sound like malevolent demons summoned to battle. These songs are carefully layered, with voices and lead guitar complementing the underlying action, but with the Malevolent Creation-style (think “Multiple Stab Wounds” off The Ten Commandments) interplay between vocals and muted chording that lures you into a delirium of hypnosis.
Released on the 20th anniversary of the recording of the first Imprecation demo, “The Order of Nine Angles,” this four-song testament to brutality will convince even cynical observers that an unspeakable evil exists in Houston. Luckily it’s also a highly listenable evil that may represent not only this band’s most mature work yet, but their most inspired.