DRAWN AND QUARTERED: Congregation Pestilence
Release year: 2021
Label: Krucyator Productions
Though the luminaries and iconic names of old school US death metal are numerous, there will always be those who are for whatever reason destined to fester in obscurity. Some entirely deservedly, others not so. Drawn And Quartered, who started out already in 1992 as Plague Bearer and changed to their current name in 1994 belong to the latter category. With eight albums of entirely competent, powerful old school USDM under their belt, one can only guess as to why they aren’t a more known name.
Perhaps they just entered the race too late: this kind of brutal, skull-smashing death metal was already going out of style by ’94, let alone ’99 when the band released their debut full-length. That said, on their 8th and most recent album, Congregation Pestilence, the US trio prove they can still deliver a face-smashing set of solid US death metal.
To be sure, originality is not to be found in abundance here. Whilst they don’t sound too much like any one band, Drawn And Quartered certainly don’t hide the fact that classic USDM is where they draw their inspiration from, and is what they perform. Resorting to the simplistic method of namedropping, Congregation Pestilence sounds a bit like if early Incantation joined forces with mid-era Morbid Angel and took a page or two from the brutal USDM playbook. Deep, cavernous vocals, twisted riffage, a slight technical bent here and there, violent barrages of tungsten-heavy brutality… that is what Congregation Pestilence offers.
Luckily, if lack of originality is written down as a “con”, then quality balances things in the “pro” bracket. There’s definitely skill at play here, although one could perhaps hope for a few more memorable riffs or sections. As it is now, the album itself has a pleasantly uniform sound – one for the “pro” bracket – but on the flipside of the same coin, many of the songs are hard to distinguish from each other. One for the “con” bracket. The production definitely goes into the “pro” bracket: heavy and sludgy, instruments are still clearly discernible. Even when blasting away at abandon and guitars shredding chaotic riffs at breakneck speed, the sound doesn’t fall apart.
Ultimately, Congregation Pestilence does prove why Drawn And Quartered have never risen to the forefront of USDM – up there with the true visionaries and pioneers who crafted the very building blocks from which the style and soun was constructed. However, it also more than sufficiently proves that the band deserves far more recognition than what they are given: from the aforementioned building blocks, Drawn And Quartered craft yet another album or consistently good, traditional but not worn-out death metal.
Though a few items land in the “con” bracket, there’s overwhelmingly more items in the “pro” bracket. As such, fans of brutal and/or classic US death metal do themselves a service in checking this album out.
Summary: A consistently solid if somewhat unoriginal slab of classic USDM