Sep 142022

(We welcome the return of NCS contributor Hope Gould and her review a new EP by the Oregonian black/death band Diabolic Oath, out now on the Sentient Ruin label.)

Something evil haunts the Pacific Northwest. Beneath the quaintness of the moss and ferns lies a sickly, insidious rot. In recent years, the PNW’s underground has siphoned the contaminated soil of its foul minerals and tirelessly cultivates some seriously evil metal – and the soil is rich. This year alone has seen evil, grimy releases from the likes of Triumvir Foul, Hissing and Grave Infestation to name a few. Portland’s Diabolic Oath were cultivated from the very same soil, festered in it, and have again proven themselves to be a most odious force with their new EP, Aischrolatreia.

Diabolic Oath emerged conspicuously from the Oregon mire with their first full-length, 2020’s Profane Death Exodus. Setting them apart was their masterful use of fretless guitar and fretless bass to craft a warped soundscape over unconventional compositions. Aischrolatreia revisits this sound but takes on an even more hostile and raw approach. Bestial devotees are likely to find themselves being sucked into the aural filth while others who have not yet heard the call may find it a jarring journey.

Even through the density, the musicianship on Aischrolatreia is discernible and damn, is it impressive. A constant throughout is a wobble created by the fretless strings, each note gliding into tune with an almost vocal quality. On the first track, “Thrones Before Slobbering Gods,” guitars oscillate like warning sirens over a hostile buzz. Any fan of Portal would feel at home in the disorienting atmosphere and appreciate a similar stunning technicality. It must also be pointed out that Diabolic Oath understand the importance of a tight and immersive rhythm section. There is an Immolation feel to the groove on “Swathed In Aberrant Flesh” and the disciplined restraint on the menacing track “Wrathful Portals.”

What Diabolic Oath captured on Aischrolatreia that stands out is lightning in a bottle intensity, technical but not in any way sterile. My favourite example is likely the raw and simple groove-drums that kick off the second track, “Grand Atrocities Through Foul Miscreations.” The trio are most definitely accomplished musicians who take their craft seriously, but there are organic flashes like this that keep the 24-minute EP an engrossing listen.

Vocals from what sounds like each of the three unknown members materialize from cavernous depths as sinister gutterals and frantic snarls. I love the barbaric chanting that opens the last track, “Poisoned Bodies of Swine Imbuing.” It plods and grows in intensity before becoming enveloped in the warped wall of noise, becoming another layer in the madness. At times, the vocals match or trade off with the heaviness of the bass, adding to the overall hallucinatory effect. Aischrolatreia has moments that left me wondering if I had really heard certain things or if my consciousness had somehow expanded during the listen and decided to place them there just so. There is a potent psychedelic and cerebral quality to what Diabolic Oath have conjured, yet it remains coated in the rotten, grimy soils of the PNW.

The EP explores some very experimental, freeform compositions that manage to flow like a toxic sludge. The heavy bass keeps the atmosphere damn near claustrophobic but allows for some bizarre textures to shine metallic through the murkiness. Truth be told, upon the first listen I found myself hungering for the cleaner production Profane Death Exodus had boasted. After sitting with it a bit longer, however, I found the raw sound carves out the weirdness in ways that made me appreciate Diabolic Oath’s craft in a new light.

Aischrolatreia, released by the mighty Sentient Ruin earlier this month, serves as a prelude to a forthcoming sophomore full-length, and the band has warned listeners to not expect the same album twice. One can only begin to wonder what new depths they will take us to from here. In the meantime, the rich soil of the Pacific Northwest has yielded something intoxicating with this EP, and Diabolic Oath continue to fester in it as they quest for carnage.

Aischrolatreia can be purchased on all physical mediums via Sentient Ruin’s Bandcamp or website. You can also purchase the digital album directly from the band’s Bandcamp.




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