Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hic Iacet- Hedonist of the Death(2011)

Hic Iacet- Hedonist of the Death

I missed Hedonist of the Death, from Spanish warlocks Hic Iacet, in 2011 despite near-universal praise for the bands debut demo.  Slow to catch on as always, I was never-the-less intrigued by the demo's glorious cover art and promises of Blackened, occult Death Metal in the vein of recent releases from Muknal and Temple Nightside.  Another occult themed Blackened Death Metal band seemed a bit... redundant at this point, but it was hard to say no to that cover art(I mean look at that shit.  I bought the recent vinyl re-release of the album from Hell's Headbangers just because of that album cover).

Luckily in this case judging a book by it's cover didn't blow up in my face(here's looking at you Sleepers in the Rift), and Hedonist of the Death delivers on most of it's promise for occult devastation and disgusting swarms of black locusts.  I would not go so far as to put this demo among the best the genre has had to offer over the past few years, and it's a demo that lacks many of the typical occult bells-and-whistles that their peers have taken to new extremes.  But despite a complete lack of anything that would be labeled "Dark Ambient" or "avant-garde," Hic Iacet still manage to invoke the ancient spirits and create thick, demonic atmospheres through strong, concise and effective song-writing.  Tracks usually run on the short side, avoiding self-indulgent stretches of lazy Funeral Doom or atmospheric keyboard-driven ambiance, and instead focus on driving rhythms and aggressive, simplistic guitar work.  Simplistic, but not overly repetitive either, as even the shortest tracks are heavy with riffs and tempo changes.  "Brevity of Congenital Rot" pretty much sums this album up perfectly: raw, simplistic and highly aggressive, with several killer riffs(particularly the opening riff) and lots of tempo changes that happen organically and not spastically.  The production is also superb, and although I'm normally not a fan of thin guitar production, it works here.  The drums are insanely raw and are devoid of any studio magic, while the bass brings all the needed power and thickness to compensate for the cold, thin guitar sound.  It's not much more than a mix of Angelcorpse, Incantation and Blasphemy, but with song-writing this good it's hard to complain with the final result.

It's a bit shocking however that despite the very simplistic riffs and song-writing on Hedonist of the Death that Hic Iacet don't sound tighter here.  The album is not obnoxiously sloppy by any stretch, but it's not like the material here is nearing Spawn of Possession levels of complexity.  At times the guitar players struggle to keep up and the drums and the whole group will stutter a bit . Part of the appeal of Hedonist of the Death is the simplistic, raw and primitive song-writing, but one has to wonder if the band took maximum time to get these songs 100% solid or rushed the album out.  Or perhaps this was a conscious decision by the band, though having only recently formed in 2010, it seems more likely the band were not as tight as they wanted to be when they released Hedonist of the Death.  And judging by the bands new upcoming material and it's lack of anything resembling sloppiness, it seems even more likely that the band were not yet completely comfortable playing with each other on Hedonist of the Death.  The sloppiness of this demo didn't really bother me personally, but it bares mentioning for those discerning listeners who don't care for anything less than perfection.
Hedonist of the Death is immensely charming, listenable and above all fucking heavy.  It's a stripped down, no frills take on Occult Black/Death that works due to fundamental song-writing which places riffs and timely tempo changes over abstract ritualism.  Truth be told, I actually prefer the abstract ritualism and avant-garde tendencies of their peers, but Hic Iacet have certainly carved out a somewhat unique take on the Occult Black/Death sound, even if it doesn't sound like it from the initial listens.  It's easy to appreciate the bands approach, and as the band grow together as musicians, I have no doubt that Hic Iacet will produce some pretty amazing stuff in the near future.  As it is, Hedonist of the Death is a stellar beginning, and highly recommended.
Rating: 8/10