Crushing rawness are the first few words that come to mind when listening to Triumvir foul’s first offering, the “An Oath of Blood and Fire”. Originally released in cassette as their demo, Godz Ov War and Third Eye Temple took upon themselves to unleash this gem in a 7” format. Featuring members of Ash Borer, this band delivers one of the most decadent old-school Death Metal sound.
Blowing things wide open with the punishing “The Vacuum of Knots”, the band spews their nasty sound immediately. Featuring fierce vocals and oppressive riffs, we are taken aback on how raw and old-school this release is. “Abhorrent Depths” keeps things dark with another dissonant onslaught to close this side.
The crazy leads on tracks like “Silence Continuum” and “Abhorrent Depths” bring back memories of outfits like Impiety. This side starts with a mellow piece with very atmospheric riffs that create a very dense and macabre ambiance. The release closes with a very decent cover of Autopsy’s “Embalmed”. All the chugging riffs and the general feeling of the song is present, but with the Triumvir foul touch.
Overall, “An Oath of Blood and Fire” is a pretty killer first release for a band with such a decadent sound. If you like the Death/Black Metal bands from the early 90’s and have a knack for a very low-fi sounding production, this is one release you don’t want to miss.
With their debut demo, An Oath of Blood and Fire, Portland death metal duo Triumvir Foul gives us many things: an abundance of thick, grimy guitar riffs; some of the rawest, most gutteral OSDM vocals you’ll hear this year; and, most importantly, a successful combination of these elements into a short and taut package. (Yes, technically the expression is “short and sweet,” but “sweet” doesn’t really apply here. Triumvir Foul doesn’t use the word “sweet.” Triumvir Foul has probably never even heard the word “sweet” before.) Accordingly, we’ll keep this assessment similarly short and taut: An Oath of Blood and Fire, simply put, kicks ass.
Just released on vinyl following a cassette release in 2014, Oath boasts a mere 16 minutes of run-time. It’s the kind of listen you’ll find yourself going through over and over again, simply because it unfolds so quickly. With four songs coming, kicking your ass, and then going, don’t be surprised if they don’t fully sink in until the second, third or even fourth listen.
Once they do, though, it’s quite a damn thing. Having plied their trade in black metal acts Ash Borer and Urzeit before forming Triumvir Foul, the duo—known under the aliases Cedentibus and Ad Infinitum—know a thing or two about how to slice their way through extreme metal. They chance pace and feel frequently; in the opener, “The Vacuum of Knots,” for example, we go from an upbeat, blast-beat driven maelstrom to a slower, almost doomy bridge section that gradually adds layers of shred guitar licks to build back up a thick layer of inner chaos. With an onslaught of tremolo-picking offsetting more traditional death metal riffs on a regular basis, Oath becomes the kind of album where you never quite know what’s coming next.
The second half of Oath is the true highlight. Of the three original songs on display here, “Silence Continuum” shines the brightest. It’s the best combined representation of each of the myriad of influences the band brings to the table—the loudest, filthiest, most aggressive thing here, bar none. And the band’s chosen closer—a raw, ear-drum-shattering take on Autopsy’s “Embalmed”—demonstrates that, even having cut their teeth with black metal, they’ve got both a reverence for death metal’s past and an exciting path forward into its future. Keep an eye on Triumvir Foul—you can bet we will be.
Composed of members from Ash Borer and Urzeit, Portland, Oregon's Triumvir Foul has emerged from the depths. It's unclear when this two man project of guitarist/vocalist Ad Infinitum and drummer Cedentibus first came together, but in April of 2014 they issued a four song EP titled An Oath of Blood and Fire themselves in both digital and limited to one hundred cassette formats. Since then, the release has been picked up by Godz of War Productions for a seven-inch vinyl pressing, which is also being distributed by Third Eye Temple. With another chance to own a physical version of this recording upon us, does it stand as one well worth picking up, or is it best left to obscurity?
With the legacy both members bring to the table, it's hard to imagine An Oath of Blood and Fire anything but a raw or raw-ish recording. Immediately the duo deliver with an analog approach that doesn't quite fall into the world of "cavernous" Death Metal along the likes of Blaspherian or early Incantation, but the loud buzz of the guitars and bass, coupled with slightly distant drums and further vocals, all make the comparisons close enough without sounding too hollow. It does, however, allow the material to have more of an eccentric side at times, which is exerted early on.
"The Vacuum of Knots" kicks things off with a strong Swedish Death Metal influence that the loud, vile distortions perfectly fit into. Strong hints of Doom Metal can be found in some of the slower material, such as the guitar solo and when approaching the one minute mark as sanity begins to fade to awkward chords and chaotic attacks from the drum kit. This bleeds into "Abhorrent Depths", a far more sinister track of creeping Death and Doom Metal at its coldest, and most merciless. After about a minute, the pace picks up, pulling the deep pulse of the bass guitar forward thanks to complex chords that wind up buried a bit underneath them. What was a sudden spurt of madness nicely progresses into infectious grooves that only continue to assert their dominance over you as the music itself grows tighter by the end.
While side a's two tracks are linked together, side b isn't quite as lucky. In fact, it's almost a complete departure from the established direction! "Silence Continuum" carries itself as a mixture of Death Metal and Grindcore similar to the likes of Exhumed, but far more hushed overall. Even the guitars themselves sound thinner and distant, taking away some of the bite when handled faster, causing them to be hidden behind the bass and drums. The only memorable part, sadly, is the psychedelic angle during the solo towards the end. Even the cover of Autopsy's "Embalmed" isn't that great. While it suffers from many of the same problems, this one ends pretty bass heavy, making up for the deeper distortions that don't have that much enthusiasm behind them outside the solo, leaving much of this track to hit as though the band were going through the motions just to show one of the influences to the direction of this two-piece.
The biggest issue behind An Oath of Blood and Fire is the variety on display, and how the raw audio can't support the more standard material later on. Side a features two stunningly bleak and bludgeoning performances linked together into one extended performance that just slips by the eight minute mark, whereas side b sounds ripped from the early nineties of the Relapse Records Goregrind catalogue with the token cover track thrown in because what demo is complete without one, right? But, really, it's great to see this demo get picked up for a proper vinyl release to accompany the initial cassette pressing, not to mention just making it a little more accessible to those who don't want to shell out the money for a digital Bandcamp download. If you're a fan of Death Metal and either missed out before or happen to get the chance to pick up the first pressing, An Oath of Blood and Fire will leave you keeping an eye on Triumvir Foul to see what develops in the years to come.
[APOCH'S METAL REVIEW]