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Rise Of The Dead

Belgium Country of Origin: Belgium

Rise Of The Dead
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: March 22nd, 2024
Genre: Black, Thrash
1. Black Abyss
2. Unholy Ritual
3. Undead
4. Necronomicon
5. Eternal War (For Immortality)
6. Beyond The Artic
7. Black Winter Night
8. Cathedral Of Lost Souls
9. Blood Eagle
10. Into The Void
11. Wild Hunt

Review by Greg on March 26, 2024.

Judging from its first few months, it seems like 2024 is gonna be another year not short on black/thrash releases. Belgian dudes in Devastatiön try to join the pack with their third effort Rise Of The Dead. The fact that they've managed to keep the same stable lineup for almost two decades is admirable enough, but hopefully not the only good thing I can say about them, am I right?

So, just in case you're expecting something surprising, for some reason, the recipe is predictably the tried-and-tested one you should be accustomed to for this genre, by now; yet, as much as I'd like to compare this to "Conjurers Of Cruelty", by the almost homonymous Devastator, differences do exist. The obvious one, as in, easily the first to be noticed, is the rather weird production choice. Eschewing the raw, old-school-speed-y aesthetics that basically everyone following Midnight and Co. adopts, Rise Of The Dead assaults your speakers with a crisp enough tone, and wants everything to be deafeningly heard. Especially the extremely loud, metallic drums (kicks and snare, mainly) are overwhelming, to the point of being sporadically distracting, and would maybe feel more at home in a death metal album. But such a direct approach, focused more on frontal aggression than anything else, was arguably a conscious decision for a band that writes, well, direct songs, focused more on frontal aggression than anything else.

Indeed, Devastatiön might lack the spontaneity and memorability of their British comrades (let alone the subtle, classy arrangements of giants like Hellripper), but they sure do their best to make up for it with sheer, unfiltered, unadulterated intensity... prioritizing blind fury above basically every other thing. Tom Heynssens' drumming is in almost constant 'blast-beat and/or double bass' mode, and I don't think I've come across a song that wasn't ready to launch itself headfirst into a hellish explosion of sulphur at some point, when not right off the bat, once during these 44 minutes. Nothing wrong with all of this per se, granted, but it's also not enough to propel the release into stardom. Riffs are usually uninventive, often not aiming much further than a textbook tremolo, perfectly adequate yet also unlikely to surprise. Egregious example would be killer opener 'Black Abyss', which has all the (numerous) neck-wrecking tempo changes at the right places, but also its first, and only, truly sock-knocking riff only at 2:20.

The lead guitar doesn't help, either – 'Beyond The Artic' is the only song containing a guitar solo, which leads to a truly intense finale. 'Cathedral Of Lost Souls' is where the guys almost managed to write a titanic slow refrain (by accident, maybe?), and overall all the longer songs offer a solid experience, save for the more by-the-numbers 'Into The Void', but all of the above feels like a group of dudes hitting the jackpot every now and then, instead of consistently playing to their strengths throughout the whole album.

But, you know, I shouldn't be the one claiming to know what they should play, since they understood it by themselves with the last track, as well as advance single, 'Wild Hunt'. I don't know if sharing its title with a Watain album (albeit universally considered their worst) played its part, but Devastatiön were just on another level here, despite the track itself not trying anything different at its core – it's just that every riff sounds as inspired as it can get. Just the ever-so-slightly black-tinged intro is already the best thing on the album, hands down. Not to mention the riff starting at 1:55. Okay, I can't really find any complaints about this song. More or less the best ending you could imagine for this kind of album.

While Devastatiön's formula is unlikely to disappoint, and I appreciate ending things on a high note as much as the next guy, I still don't think I'd be able to remember more than 3 or 4 songs out of Rise Of The Dead, unfortunately. I recently did my last exam at the university, and I'm glad it didn't revolve around the differences between 'Undead', 'Black Winter Night', and 'Blood Eagle', otherwise I'd never have been able to escape that madhouse. Jokes aside, a shorter playing time could have been a partial solution. But don't overlook this one completely. And, once again: 'Wild Hunt' is the shit.

Rating: 7.1 out of 10