Technical death metal and progressive songwriting collide on Those Who Beheld the End, the debut full length from Finland’s Denominate. Truthfully that’s the easy way out in describing it. In reality it’s an amalgamation of metal styles that may not be cohesive as a whole but when the band finds their strength the outcome is truly impressive. These seven tracks go in many different directions and pull from a varied well of influences — overall it’s a strong debut that should appeal to a wider audience than just death metal listeners.
If you’ve been following along in these very pages, Finland punches out quality metal like an automobile stamping facility that operates around the clock. Anything from lacerating death metal to sweeping black metal and everything in between. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a debut from this land would be anything less. And for the most part Denominate get it right. “The Demented Scholar Of Abatos” is a nasty mix of Carcass crunch and Suffocation style speed. And with the brawny and forward thinking interplay between bass and guitar riffs on “Terrestial Funeral” one would be excused in thinking they were listening to an unreleased Death track. A daring comparison indeed but nonetheless warranted.
“Torments Of Silence” is the longest track on the album and as such explores the most territory. Mournful acoustics give way to blistering tremolo heavy black metal riffs complete with vocals that bounce back and forth between shrieks and death growls. The remaining minutes find the band intermingling melodic death metal with atmospheric black metal. Stylistically, this track places the band squarely at their best, the songwriting is near bulletproof and the way they traverse the grandiose material sounds effortless, like that of longstanding veterans with nothing left to prove other than continuing to be on top of their game.
Denominate are self professed as a technical, progressive death metal band and weirdly enough their tech death side is the Achilles heel of the album. Opener “In A Chasm Of Stone”, save for the wild guitar solos, sounds like yet another average entry into the genre. Later, and after a bad attempt at a Candiria like opening, “Penumbra” falls into the same abyss and goes stale long before its five minutes are up. None of this is to say the effort or ability is missing, obviously skill plays a large part in successfully playing this style of metal and these five members are in no short supply of it. The problem is, after spending time with the epic and fantastic “Torments Of Silence” the band sound blasé when treading technical death metal.
On Those Who Beheld the End, Denominate suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. Many things are attempted but not all of it pays off and cohesiveness is subsequently a weak point. However, the band is at their best and strongest when intermingling forward thinking death metal with the savage landscapes of black metal. When they choose to move away from their lukewarm tech-death is when this album shines the brightest and provides the most memorable and stunning moments throughout its 40 plus minute runtime.