With their debut demo, An Oath of Blood and Fire, Portland death metal duo Triumvir Foul gives us many things: an abundance of thick, grimy guitar riffs; some of the rawest, most gutteral OSDM vocals you’ll hear this year; and, most importantly, a successful combination of these elements into a short and taut package. (Yes, technically the expression is “short and sweet,” but “sweet” doesn’t really apply here. Triumvir Foul doesn’t use the word “sweet.” Triumvir Foul has probably never even heard the word “sweet” before.) Accordingly, we’ll keep this assessment similarly short and taut: An Oath of Blood and Fire, simply put, kicks ass.
Just released on vinyl following a cassette release in 2014, Oath boasts a mere 16 minutes of run-time. It’s the kind of listen you’ll find yourself going through over and over again, simply because it unfolds so quickly. With four songs coming, kicking your ass, and then going, don’t be surprised if they don’t fully sink in until the second, third or even fourth listen.
Once they do, though, it’s quite a damn thing. Having plied their trade in black metal acts Ash Borer and Urzeit before forming Triumvir Foul, the duo—known under the aliases Cedentibus and Ad Infinitum—know a thing or two about how to slice their way through extreme metal. They chance pace and feel frequently; in the opener, “The Vacuum of Knots,” for example, we go from an upbeat, blast-beat driven maelstrom to a slower, almost doomy bridge section that gradually adds layers of shred guitar licks to build back up a thick layer of inner chaos. With an onslaught of tremolo-picking offsetting more traditional death metal riffs on a regular basis, Oath becomes the kind of album where you never quite know what’s coming next.
The second half of Oath is the true highlight. Of the three original songs on display here, “Silence Continuum” shines the brightest. It’s the best combined representation of each of the myriad of influences the band brings to the table—the loudest, filthiest, most aggressive thing here, bar none. And the band’s chosen closer—a raw, ear-drum-shattering take on Autopsy’s “Embalmed”—demonstrates that, even having cut their teeth with black metal, they’ve got both a reverence for death metal’s past and an exciting path forward into its future. Keep an eye on Triumvir Foul—you can bet we will be.
Keep it heavy,