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jools green
22nd January 2018
Jools Green

damnatio memoriae

U.S. Blackened Death Metal outfit Grethor, named after the Klingon's version of hell, "Gre'thor", had already half won me over just with their name.

From my first listen of this debut full length 'Damnatio Memoriae', which follows a succession of demos and EPs, they have continued to live up to my expectations.

The title, 'Damnatio Memoriae', is a Latin phrase meaning "condemnation of memory" based on how "The Roman Senate adopted this as a form of dishonourable punishment against traitors and criminals who brought shame to the Empire. This punishment, stipulating that a person must not be remembered, was regarded as a fate worse than death".

The central lyrical themes are dehumanization, authoritarianism, and the decline of critical thinking.

Regarding the themes, vocalist Marcus Lawrence commented, "Religion has always been a tool of oligarchy; it had always been the most effective.

damnatio memoriae

"Whenever it seemed that we were going to transcend it, the shamanistic class would always be amplified by the oligarchs who needed a compliant labour force…The endless wars, the raping of ecosystems, the genocides all in the name of the benevolence of the 'Christian Nation.'

"If we are allowed to denigrate into whatever our tribal instincts desire, if we insist on only existing in only the reality we choose, then the violence that will follow will be inevitable."

Sound-wise the album is an eleven track offering that clocks in at just under the hour and delivers an extreme onslaught that is refreshingly unique, a mix of harsh, atonal and technical elements wrapped around a blackened core.

The only vague comparison I can make, particularly in the first track 'The Imminent Unknown' and 'Embracing Oblivion', is a bit of a nod to Morbid Angel, in the delivery of the riffs at times, but it's just a nod, the overall sound is pure Grethor.

The album is complemented by some tasty, often insane chunks of lead work, particularly on 'The Last Manifesto', 'Requiem for a Strawman' and' Manic Nostalgia' where it has a particularly impressive and unique delivery.

The vocals also are really quite spectacular in their range also, from rasping snarls all the way up to tortuous screams, well-layered for depth of effect, completed with a crushingly manic drum delivery that is fast, varied and skilfully delivered to match the rest of this extreme package.

Even when the pace slows on 'Tongue of Argent' and 'Weaponized Madness' with its dark, almost sexy groove, they remain just as crushing and even more sinister, all in all making it an one of those albums that's an end to end jaw dropping listen.

Track listing:
The Imminent Unknown
The God of Eugenics
The Last Manifesto
Embracing Oblivion
Tongue of Argent
Requiem for a Strawman
Weaponized Madness
Manic Nostalgia
From This Rot so Shall We be Remade
Wounds of Ruin

The intriguing cover art for 'Damnatio Memorae' was created by surrealist Anton Semenov.

This is quite a spectacular, exciting and refreshingly unique listen and will be available in its entirety on Edgewood Arsenal Records from 26 January and digital or physical copy via Grethor's Bandcamp page along with their back catalogue.




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