(DGR wrote this review of the new album by the Italian death metal band Order Ov Riven Cathedrals.)
Göbekli Tepe, the recently released full-length follow-up to last year’s Order Ov Riven Cathedrals EP The Discontinuinity’s Interlude, takes absolutely no prisoners from the moment its first real song kicks off. Following a similar format to last year’s EP, Göbekli Tepe basically has an intro for ambience and then spends the rest of its time with you going as fast as feasibly possible — in line with many of their Italian hyperfast blast-heavy death metal kin — and making almost no compromise in favor of breathing room.
The mysterious two-piece behind Order Ov Riven Cathedrals continue their science fiction and mythological bent nearly a year later, this time amplifying just about every aspect of last year’s EP, making it feel like The Discontinuity’s Interlude really was laying out a blueprint for them to follow. Order Ov Riven Cathedrals not only wring just about every ounce of highly accelerated death metal they can out of their time, but also bring along a bevy of familiar movie and media samples (how many albums out there have a sample from Breaking Bad on them these days?). These include metal’s recent obsession with Oppenheimer’s television interview wherein he utters “I am become death, destroyer of worlds”… although the Riven Cathedrals crew mix it up a bit by using it in reverse and closing out with, “A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent”.
If it feels like the opening of this review is already densely packed, that’s because, much like its predecessor, Göbekli Tepe is a dense album. If by the time this album wraps up there is one thing the band have made very clear, it’s that they are huge fans of auditory overload.
Like many of their countrymen and fellow scene cohorts this year, Order Ov Riven Cathedrals have released a disc that finds one very solid mood and then stays with it for the better part of forty minutes. The blazing fast approach provides an air of extremity as the band fling each listener to-and-fro through a variety of heftily grunted death metal songs (those sounds are very up-front in the mix this time) with a very light electronics backing that provides enough melodic hook to keep the moment-to-moment interesting.
Göbekli Tepe also shares commonality with its older sibling in its tome-length song titles, which continue the tradition of replacing “of” with “ov”, because if you’re going to storm Nile’s throne for the word-heavy song titles, “Adoration ov the Spherical Trigonometry” is a pretty fucking good starting point, though the sequences of numbers that appear in the titles of the opening and closing songs, alongside the track titled “Revelation Ov a Neutron Swarm”, make one wonder if perhaps Order Ov Riven Cathedrals are perhaps playing in the same cosmic destruction yard that the tech-death hurricane that is Wormed have long called home.
Given the inhuman pacing at which most of Göbekli Tepe was written, it’s a crazy idea that most of the songs here reach past the five-minute mark with ease. Only its beginning and ending tracks stay in the sub-three-minute range. Everything else is a pretty huge four-to-six minutes. Given the massive and monolithic slabs of sound that Order Ov Riven Cathedrals are ejecting as songs, that can be a little overwhelming at first.
“Worship Ov Abduction”, for instance, is the disc’s first song past the introduction and basically starts the affair as fast as the band can go; and at times it feels like the whole song is built around choir stings in order to add some apocalyptic flavoring to the already “huge” sound the song has, thanks to every instrument blazing at rapid-fire and brought right up front for your auditory suffocation. To be fair, the band do eventually top themselves on the choir-sting front in the back half of the album during “The Fury’s Algorithm”, where it practically becomes another layer of guitar.
While many songs run in a similar vein throughout this disc, “From Neptune Towards Assyria” is one of the highlights, positioned directly at the center of the disc and finding a near perfect balance of the different combating elements that the group construct their songs from. It’s filled with abrupt start-and-stop segments that have enough extra bass buried behind them that with a proper sound system it almost sounds like movie-worthy explosions. They hit suddenly and with a very punchy amount of force, breaking up the song and snapping each part back into place as you traverse from one white-knuckle fast segment to the next. That the band manage to pack a legitimate guitar solo into the last minute-and-a-half of the song makes it that much more impressive.
Order Ov Riven Cathedrals have their own bit of fun with the stupefying speed factor as well. There is one particular moment early on in the song prior to “From Neptune…” — “Wrath of a Photon God” (yes, they slipped up on one Ov replacement) — where the electronics segment seems to devolve into an excuse to just go for a blinding melodic screech instead of anything recognizable. It’s a fun moment that adds to the already chaotic maelstrom of the song.
“Invocation Ov The Kavod”, which closes the album, may have one of the highlights of the disc in its own right. There, the band use the electronic segments to fully pull the listener out of the whirling hurricane of sound that the disc has become by that point — using it more for some techno-sci-fi experimentation — and deploy one of the most blatantly brain-dead guitar-chug segments on the disc before venting one final storm of sound to close things out.
There’s only a couple times this sort of breakdown-caveman chug makes its appearance amidst the guitar destruction of Göbekli Tepe. In fact, the other lies within the aforementioned “Revelation Ov A Neutron Swarm”, which is also the one song on the record that feels like the link between The Discontinuity’s Interlude and this album. The song itself is fairly brief, but it is stacked with vocal intros and orchestration, combined with hammering war drums and a synth segment in the back half to close the event.
This particular style of lightspeed death metal — especially that from Italy — is a genre that has become rigidly defined within the last seven-to-eight years as multiple groups have found success in the combination of blinding technicality and inhuman speed turned into extreme sports pyrotechnics. Each group has added its own flair to the genre, but often those tend to lie at the fringes of the core shock-and-awe assault that takes place. While Order Ov Riven Cathedrals don’t stray too far from that foundation, the musicians here at the very least recognize that extremity can be made mundane, and thus they weave samples and various electronic eclectica into their songs in order to keep things interesting. It’s a recognizable attempt to take what would otherwise be a near relentless hammering and make it somewhat cinematic.
Göbekli Tepe is still a massive piece of work, with plenty of material to chew through. Because almost every song is its own solidly-packed piece with very little dead space in between each part, multiple trips through the album can yield multiple rewards — from grooves that appear in and out of existence at the speed with which sub-atomic particles seem to disappear and reappear, to electronic flourishes throughout that lend a fun factor to some of the more neck-snapping headbang sections that suddenly will themselves into existence.
Although only the group’s second release, Göbekli Tepe demonstrates that Order Ov Riven Cathedrals are already adept at reducing their listeners to a smoking hole in the ground. Göbekli Tepe feels like the natural successor to what the band started on The Discontinuinity’s Interlud, and the continued evolution of their pyrotechnic take on death metal will be one to keep an eye on.