Cortege - Official Website


Poland Country of Origin: Poland

1. Reluded
2. Behind The Temple Veil
3. Tired Of Dying
4. Collision Course
5. Rahu
6. Vandari
7. Filth
8. Mitote - The Hum Of A Thousand Voices
9. On The Edge
10. Purgatory
11. Ketu
12. To Die, To Sleep, No More

Review by Benjamin on March 28, 2024.

Cortege have been lurking in the Polish death metal scene for some time, but Vandari is only their third album across a nearly three-decade existence. On the evidence of the surgical precision of the 12 tracks contained within, this is a real shame, as the band deal in a combination of razor sharp riffs, and genuinely memorable songcraft, with the kind of ease that puts significantly more well-known bands in the shade. The album starts brilliantly with the circular, staccato riff of ‘Reluded’ making a deep and savage impact on the listener, before the track switches effectively between slower sections that utilise queasy, seasick guitar harmonies to great unsettling effect, before the main riff returns once more to mercifully deliver the final, killing blow.

Sitting somewhere between Asphyx, mid-period Morbid Angel, and Severe Torture, most of the songs operate at a chunky mid-paced velocity, the guitars alternating between dextrous triplet rhythms, and the kind of dissonant churn that immediately recalls Trey Azaghoth’s crew’s "Formulas Fatal To The Flesh" era. There is an arrogance to Cortege’s delivery which cannot avoid comparison to the approach of fellow Poles Behemoth, although Cortege are far more orthodox in their adherence to the death metal rulebook than anything that Nergal and colleagues have released since "Evangelion". Many of the best moments on Vandari come when the band add a layer of proficient technicality to their songwriting – Artur Ambrozy is a highly capable lead player, and the dazzling riffs of ‘Filth’ are elevated by some fluid and melodic solo sections, which see an already excellent track climb to even greater heights. Indeed, ‘Filth’ is one of the highlights of the album, boasting some authentic vocal hooks (Sebastian Bartek’s sardonic delivery of the chorus, “Keep believing in your savior” absolutely begs to be growled back at him by a baying live audience), and the song is compelling evidence in favour of the band’s choice to take their time over composition, such is its concise and powerful nature.

It is a real testament to the strength of the modern death metal scene that a band such as Cortege are relatively little-known outside of their home country, despite their impressive showing here. As the furious churn of ‘Behind The Temple Veil’ pulls the listener into its maelstrom of chopping guitars and snapping drums, it is difficult to conclude that they do not deserve a reputation that would put them on an equal footing with virtually any well-known death metal band currently plying their torturous trade. Cortege are not overly technical or progressive, but not unlike recent Blood Red Throne or Vomitory releases, they offer a plethora of mosh-friendly and memorable songs, which burrow into the brain like a plague-ridden parasite ready to take over its unsuspecting host, demanding total allegiance to the death metal cause. While not exactly innovative, there is also more than enough personality within the band’s music to ensure that they do not come across as overly generic – the idiosyncratic whirring riffs that appear in various guises across the record are a real point of difference, showcasing some dextrous rhythm playing that gives Meshuggah a run for their money. Vandari is a confident, and highly competent album that sees each track honed to an incisive edge, and never threatens to outstay a warm welcome. One hopes that we do not have to wait as long for our next fix.

Rating: 8.2 out of 10