Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum – Album Review

Artist: Father Befouled

Album Title: Crowned In Veneficum

Label: Everlasting Spew Records  

Date of Release: 25 March 2022

My newly heightened love for death metal continues with the latest release from a band that, until now, I’d never heard of. Formed back in 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia, Father Befouled have been incredibly active, releasing four full-length albums in the intervening years as well as a handful of EPs, a demo, and several split releases. They boast one of the worst logos within death metal as far as I’m concerned, illegible even by extreme metal standards. But the dark and malevolent cover of album number five, ‘Crowned In Veneficum’ did just enough to capture my interest and ensure a cursory listen. The cursory listen has now turned into a full review, I’m pleased to say.

What makes the relative prolific nature of Father Befouled even more impressive, is the fact that each of the four members can list a veritable library of current and former bands with which they are connected, particularly vocalist/guitarist Justin Stubbs who can namedrop upwards of ten other bands past and present with whom he is or has been involved. Stubbs is joined on ‘Crowned In Veneficum’ by guitarist Derrik Goulding, bassist Rhys Spencer and, most recently, drummer Amos Rifkin, who joined the ranks in 2018.

Put as purely and simply as I can, Father Befouled play an incredibly dirty, gritty, and nasty form of death metal that seeks to pummel and bludgeon the listener whilst plumbing the depths of the underworld. This is a band that can be described as ‘no nonsense’, driving forth with a kind of incessant, old school-derived brutality whilst exploring topics about death and blasphemy. Not that you could ever understand the lyrics because in fine brutal death metal fashion, Stubbs’ vocals are deeply guttural, at times so low that they can barely be heard over the instrumentation; his voice has a dry, rasping hiss to it too, as if it emanates from the body of the dead.

‘Crowned In Veneficum’ is a not atypical length for a death metal record, sitting as it does around the 36-minute mark. But in that time, it makes a decent impact, and will almost certainly find some favour with fans of bands such as Incantation and maybe Immolation, although not perhaps as scything as the latter.

That said, the ferocity with which ‘Unheavenly Catechesis’ explodes from the speakers is immediately impressive. Wailing lead guitar notes lead the charge under which we’re treated to a torrent of blastbeats and buzzing riffs. It’s so intense that it almost feels like it could unravel and descend into an almighty mess. And yet the suffocating onslaught does clear just enough to allow some discernible groove to enter the song, as well as a marked slowing of the tempo at the halfway stage. It’s here that the stench of doom pervades to great effect, allowing an almost melodic lead solo to dominate the final stages.

There are few surprises to be heard as the album develops, but that’s not a bad thing in my opinion, as the Father Befouled stock-in-trade material is sufficiently strong. I particularly enjoy the moments when a greater sense of dark atmosphere is allowed to muscle in on the otherwise tumultuous bursts of ferocious death metal aggression. A great example of this can be heard within ‘Salivating Faithlessness’, and at other key moments throughout the record.

If I had a negative comment to make about this album however, it would be that the instrumental tracks, ‘His Throne Decayed’ and ‘Euphoria Of Accepted Suffering’ are less impactful than the remaining material. In particular, at just 38 seconds, the latter of the two is a little pointless, even if it does carry a certain cinematic, dystopian quality that segues nicely into the closing track, ‘Utter Abomination’.

On the subject of the closer though, this is perhaps where the greatest surprise is delivered. For the first two minutes of the track, we’re plunged even further into funeral doom metal territory, where the pace is almost stagnant as heavy, lurching riffs encase the ears. It means that when the pace is increased, these periods of aggression are all the more impactful. Expecting the remainder of the song to maintain the increased pace, it’s nice to be proven wrong as the doom façade returns until the close.

I didn’t really expect an awful amount from this album, but it is a generally positive affair, and reasonably consistent. Whether you enjoy it, will depend largely on your predisposition towards this kind of dirty and depraved death metal where technical prowess is evident, but plays second fiddle to a more straightforward, no-nonsense form of brutality. I don’t think that ‘Crowned In Veneficum’ will propel the Americans into a much higher echelon of the genre, but it’s a fine record that will please the afficionados of the genre, no doubt.

The Score of Much Metal: 80%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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