Type: CD Company: Broken Limbs Release: 2016 Genre: Death Reviewer: Greg Watson Published: 2/3/2017
Easily the best death metal album of the last 5 years!
It's known that I have lambasted and bemoaned the status of death metal the last few years. The genre I feel has stagnated and has lacked originality and forward thinking. So when I saw that another death metal band came across my path, I was prepared for the same banal, predictable dm that I'd been hearing for the last several years, but when the opening salvo of the first song began, I had to look at the name of the band who made my jaw hang agape.
Our Place of Worship Is Silence--that's the name you all should remember and store away.
The opening track is a little instrumental piece that just teases the carnage and atrocity that is to come. When "Resplendent Misery" fired up, I was completely hooked in the first five seconds. It wasn't your typical death metal riff that kicked things off. This chugging, whirling maelstrom of destruction just completely kicked me in the gut and left me doubled over in disbelief. As the track progresses, the death metal stomp is there but it's done in a way that feels fresh and has a very progressive attitude to it. I don't mean progressive in the sense of prog metal but in the sense of wanting to create something new that hasn't really been explored yet.
As I made my way through each track, my amazement, awe and respect for this band continued to grow. The ingenuity and creativity that OPOWIS shows on "The Embodiment of Hate" is just mind-blowingly amazing. The way the songs are constructed, the utilization of the classic death metal sound and the new way the band presents that sound as well as some incredible vocals make this easily the most impressive death metal release and debut album that I have heard in the last 5 years. The vocals on this album are another great example of the creativity possessed by the band. Using a mixture of black metal screams, grind grunts and death growls, OPOWIS even makes the vocal delivery feel really inventive and new.
While the riffs might sound a tad familiar to fans of dm, the pacing and the structure of the riffs is something I haven't heard in a long time. They slow things down at times, rather than speeding them up for the sheer aggressiveness that most dm bands try to create. That's not to say that they aren't aggressive. This is a case of where a little less is more. The heaviness on this album is on a level that is brand new to me. I was continually gobsmacked at how damn heavy some of these riffs sounded. Songs like "Feast of Martyrdom", "Our Place of Worship" and "Resplendent Misery" are heavier than hell and don't follow the traditional dm style.
I know I'm sounding a bit repetitive but I want to make sure that I stress just how impressive OPOWIS and their style is. The really striking thing to me is the emotion and the depth that OPOWIS brings to the table. The album has a bleak, depressive feel to it--the feeling of death. Most dm bands seem to focus on the aggressiveness of the music and the sheer brutality of the lyrics. OPOWIS focus more on what death should sound like and what it might feel like if put in to music. The emotion of the music, the angst and frustration of the lyrics, the production, all of these elements lend credence to the overall feel of "The Embodiment of Hate."
If this album had come into my lap in 2016, it would have unseated Zeal and Ardor for album of the year for 2016. Our Place of Worship Is Silence is the salvation that I have been looking for in the dm genre. This album is one that you must listen to if you are a fan of dm at all. Missing this album would be a travesty of epic proportions. Our Place of Worship Is Silence has entered the world of death metal with a furious roar and urges us all to keep death close to us. Do your part and feel the wonder and majesty that is "The Embodiment of Hate"!
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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