Feb 062024

(Andy Synn embraces the upcoming swansong from Chapel of Disease, out this Friday)

A lot of people, including yours truly, will tell you that Chapel of Disease‘s 2018 album, …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye, is one of the best Death Metal albums of the last decade.

And even those who don’t agree with that statement generally have to concede that it’s definitely one of the most unique Death Metal albums they’ve heard in a long, long time.

But the band’s upcoming fourth album (the final recording of the group’s original line-up) is neither of these things.

Because it’s not really a Death Metal album at all.

Oh, sure, there’s still some snarling vocals and gnarly riffage to be found here, with the opening title-track adhering most closely to the band’s established formula (which certain folks playfully dubbed “Entombed meets The Eagles” on previous albums) but the majority of Echoes of Light finds Chapel of Disease pivoting even more fully towards an epic, “classic” Rock sound… albeit one which still retains a whiff of the grave (if not of Grave themselves) as well as some increasingly proggy proclivities (which really come to the fore during captivating closer “An Ode to the Conqueror” – but we’ll get to that later).

Of course, the band’s sound is ultimately far more important than the semantics, and while Echoes of Light is significantly less heavy than its predecessor by pretty much any metric you’d care to measure, there’s no question that the twining twin-leads and galloping guitars of instant early highlight “A Death Through No Loss” (think “Full of Hell” meets “Freebird”) should appeal to pretty much anyone and everyone who’s ever been a fan of any form of hard rockin’, hard riffin’ music.

That being said, once you’re past the first two tracks – which seem consciously designed to ease the transition from …And as We Have Seen the Storm as smoothly as possible – you’ll find that, for better or worse, the rest of the album shifts even further away from heaviness and more towards hookiness, especially when it comes to the lashings of lead melody and shamelessly infectious guitar shreddery which dominate so much of songs like “Shallow Nights” (whose crooning cleans and melancholy vibes recall the best of latter-day Secrets of the Moon) and “Selenophile” (which hits the same sort of stadium-filling highs as recent Tribulation).

The band save, arguably at least, the best for last however (though your reaction may vary depending on whether you’ve been feeling the band’s steady shift in style over the last thirty minutes or so) with the soaring Prog Rock bombast of “Gold/Dust” and the gloomy grandeur of surprisingly subdued closer “An Ode to the Conqueror” really showing you where the band’s heart lies (and it’s definitely not in Death Metal).

Now, if you’re wondering whether or not Echoes of Light is as good, or better, than its predecessor you might find my answer a little unsatisfactory.

Because while my head says “no”, my heart says… you’re asking the wrong question, as the divide between the two – if not quite night and day – is such that to directly compare them like that seems to miss the point entirely.

Think of them, instead, as products of two different eras. One which has ended, triumphantly, the other which has only just begun.

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