Exploring caverns of cosmic darkness with Desecresy

DESECRESY: Stoic Death

Release year: 2015
Label: Xtreem Records

Finnish Desecresy have always fascinated me for a number of reasons. One of them is how seldom you see their name mentioned considering they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and have released five albums (with the sixth, Towards Nebulae, being just around the corner), and considering the bands’ ties to Slugathor, who weren’t a household name in death metal, but still a well-respected band. Adding their rather unique sound and atmosphere and the respectable (if not necessarily gobsmacking) quality of their albums, and it’s a bit odd that the niché they’ve carved for themselves has remained so small.

Perhaps one reason for this is that Desecresys’ music doesn’t really open up instantly. It takes a few listens, and they have relatively few “hit songs”, if indeed any. Listening to one track here and another there on random, it’s easy to not be impressed. Spinning any album once, it’s easy to write it off as mediocre. Desecresy demands a bit of time to open up, but when it does, the cosmic chasms and basalt caverns of this Finnish unit really draw you in. But you have to give Desecresy time; perhaps more time than many listeners are willing to give to an artist who didn’t manage to draw them in with a hit song or two.

Words like cavernous are often thrown around when describing what Desecresy sounds like, and certainly, there are plenty of cavernous qualities here. Desecresy feels like a massive, ancient cavern filled with stalagmites, stalactites and decaying monolithic statues of unknown origin, of nighted temples in forgotten chasms and poisonously glowing lights in a dead darkness, but at the same time also like boundless cosmic horror, of nameless dreads lingering in endless space.

It’d be far too easy to describe Desecresy as “Lovecraftian” despite them not dropping any overt Lovecraftian references. There is that sense of cosmic horror and darkness which is so often associated with acts labeled as “Lovecraftian”. But tagging Desecresy with that would be an injustice. The cosmic darkness of Desecresy, the charnel chasms they evoke, are of their own making.

Desecresy is both confined and boundless, subterranean and cosmic. Just like the art in the booklet of Stoic Death, crafted by the bands’ primus motor Tommi Grönqvist. What is it you’re looking at here? Is it black holes and monster suns devouring planets, or is it darkly illuminated, eternally quiet caverns filled with the mysteries and debris of long gone abominations?

The murky, sludgy guitar tone reeks of damp caverns, but especially the leads have an echoing to them that speaks of vortexes of dark power that pull you in. The vocals of Jarno Nurmi (who would leave Desecresy after this album, leaving it as Grönqvists’ solo effort) are deep, rumbling and – yes – cavernous. The dominantly mid-tempo plodding and chugging, rolling riffwork bear often a noted resemblance to Bolt Thrower. However, Desecresy invoke an atmosphere so vastly different, that despite musical resemblances, the Finns do not bring the British stalwarts too much to mind.

The production has a certain DIY edge to it, with neither the sound nor performances sounding polished or overworked. There’s a definite roughness to both. Predominantly it works, although perhaps the drums could have packed a bit more of a punch.

Hailing from Finland, it is of course natural to try to fit in Desecresy in there with the classic Finnish school of death metal. Even though Desecresy do share many outward similarities – the sheer heaviness, the doom-y tempos, the dark melodicism, they’re still not a snug fit with classics such as Convulse etc. Some of the starting points may be the same, but Desecresy carve their own monolithic sound and style from those same building blocks.

Like other Desecresy albums, Stoic Death is to be taken in one sitting. There are no real standout tracks here, no hits or misses. Certainly, anyone will like this song over that song, but there’s no track here that screams “this is the one track on the album that you should check!” Nah, the monolithic darkness of this particular stoic death opens up when you listen to the entire piece in one go – after a number of sittings. At a reasonable total length of 35 minutes, it’s definitely doable.

If I had to pick my favourite from Desecresys’ quite stable discography, I’d probably go for Chasmic Transcendence, this albums’ predecessor, but Desecresy have maintained a respectably even quality between albums. Perhaps therein lies another reason for seeing their name thrown around quite seldom: it’s hard to single out which album or track one should start from.

Stoic Death is a fine album with a powerful sense of monolithic, cavernous and cosmic darkness to it. I do think anyone into slower, mysteriously dark approaches to death metal should check out this, as well as other Desecresy albums. But at the same time, for reasons lined out above, Stoic Death does fall short of being a “must” album despite all its positive aspects.

3.5/5

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