In Case You Missed It: Unaussprechlichen Kulten – Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X)
Evil Chilean death metal cult Unaussprechlichen Kulten have been around since the late ‘90s and have never stopped putting out absolutely wicked ancient death metal, reliably dropping an album every few years starting with their first in 2005. Almost twenty years later, they’re even better than they were at the beginning, building on the strong core sound that’s slowly built them up a fanbase as one of the most consistent modern death metal bands. Make no mistake, Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) is absolutely fantastic, and deserves the wide attention that I’ve seen for it through the year.
To the uninitiated, these mad Chilean veterans have spent the last couple of decades putting their own touches on the classic early ‘90s Immolation formula, throwing incredibly aggressive angular Azagthothean riffs into a blender with thundering double-bass and frantic solos to bash in the heads of listeners, mixing in technical bits that rapidly (and organically) progress through the band’s many ideas as they move through an album. Strangeness pops up and leaves as unexpectedly as it appeared, more standard death metal coming and going as the band rapidly changes tempos and moods.
Though not much has changed in the last few years since their last full length, Unaussprechlichen Kulten have once again pulled out an incredible album to slaughter their fans, and while it’s more in line with their older material, some small changes render this a truly new entity in its own right. The most immediately noticeable change is the length; Unaussprechlichen Kulten have always favored brevity, and with Keziah Lilith Medea, they’ve finally eschewed it with this album. The shortest song on the album is longer than the longest on my previous favorite from the band, 2008’s masterful People of the Monolith, and despite having a song less than their average (eight songs, to the average eight-point-something across their other three albums), it’s a full ten minutes longer than their next longest album, 2014’s Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath. The album also features their longest song to date, with “Firma el libro de la muerte” coming in at a grand total of seven minutes and thirty seconds.
The extra length is incredibly well used, adding massive lead sections and well-placed slower rhythms (as well as a couple of extra creepy intros!) into the extra space, and the effect transforms Keziah Lilith Medea from the blazing conciseness of their previous albums into something that can really be called Lovecraftian in more than just name. The horrifying, chaotic leads that enraptured before now have space to crescendo to glorious harmonies and massive melodic lines before falling back into noisy, unapproachable insanity; the rapidfire tempo changes that Unaussprechlichen Kulten have long used to such effect now go even further to even slower points of crawling dread, and the extra space lends itself to extra memorability rather than to the tedium that it might in a lesser band. Despite all of these comments on the length, Keziah Lilith Medea is still a fast album; though an extra ten minutes might sound like a lot, the whole thing still comes in at under forty minutes, and more than once I’ve put it on repeat without losing any interest at all.
Atmosphere has a high place in the band’s priorities on this album, and it’s fucking great; the occult horror is something that I’m hard pressed to directly compare to anything else, absolutely smothering listeners without relying on production tricks to do it. If anything, the slightly increased complexity of the album is kept audible with slightly clearer production to match, with the thickness and density of the music magnifying the size of the album’s sound. All of the instruments cut clearly through the mix, allowing listeners to distinctly hear the incredibly proficient drumming without losing a second of the riffs. Equally impressively, the harrowing low growls that make up the bulk of the vocals don’t obscure a second of the instrumentation, allowing the morbid tales that vocalist/guitarist Joseph Curwen roar pierce our eardrums in unison with the instrumentation. Given the identity of the producer- Hades Archer’s own Hateaxes Command, who has worked with legions of notable Chilean bands in the past- it’s unsurprising that the album turned out so damn well.
Though it’s too early to call, I wouldn’t be surprised if Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) took its place as my new favorite in the venerable Unaussprechlichen Kulten discography, and I’m extremely eager to hear where they go next after this.
All images courtesy of Iron Bonehead Productions and Unaussprechlichen Kulten.