Artist: Cosmic Putrefaction
Album Title: Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones
Label: Profound Lore Records
Date of Release: 6 May 2022
As I listen to ‘Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones’ for the umpteenth time, there is one thought that crops up again and again, namely ‘how on Earth can this be the work of just one man?’ For Cosmic Putrefaction is a solo endeavour by Italian multi-instrumentalist, Gabriele Garmaglia. This is the third full-length album of the Milanese death metal musician, and it packs such a punch, and has so much going on, that it almost beggars belief that there’s no-one else involved in creating this music.
As it turns out, Garmaglia did enlist the help of drummer Giulio Galati of Hideous Divinity fame alongside vocalist Ricardo Nioin of Verterbrae Atlantis but otherwise, everything you hear is the work of one man with a singular vision and a real drive and enthusiasm. As someone who has not delved into the world of Cosmic Putrefaction previously, I was initially unaware that ‘Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones’ offers a continuation of the concept explored within the predecessor, ‘The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers’. In that album, and I quote: ‘…the only survivor from an apocalyptic annihilation of a dying planet walks towards its withered horizons.’ This time around, the self-same survivor ‘ultimately finds an even more sorrowful truth at the end of his journey; one that shows the empyrean fall of man through the metaphysical world and the gods who inhabit it.’ If you are confused at this point, wait until you hear the music to accompany this fantastical story.
I say this because within the 42 minutes of music on this record, Garmaglia all but throws the kitchen sink at us. Wrapped in a core of extreme, technical death metal, we’re confronted with idea after idea that occasionally threatens to turn my brain inside out. Black metal, prog, avant-garde, and plenty more besides all combine to create a dense and intimidating listening experience. At times, if I’m honest, the sheer energy and enthusiasm does threaten to spiral a little out of control, but there remains something about it that I really like. I wasn’t sure to begin with and were it not for a couple of voices on social media urging me to give it another go, I’d not be writing this review. As it is, I listened to those voices and almost instantly, something clicked.
That ‘something’ is hard to pin down with any real clarity, but I keep coming back to the album like a moth to a flame. It’s almost as if I want to challenge myself, and submerge myself in the cacophony, so that I can better understand it and appreciate it. And the more I do, the more I hear within the dissonance, naked aggression, and seemingly disjointed tumult that sparks my interest and admiration. By now, you’ll know that I have about as much musical talent as a wardrobe, so I will let others describe the various techniques that are used throughout. I will take my tried and trusted alternative route.
As a layman, but lover of all things metal, the first track to really hammer home its excellence was ‘From Resounding Silence To The Obsidian Womb’. From the beginning, I just love the bruising, muscular guitar riffs that drive the song forward with more than a touch of twisted, lurching groove. The drumming is frenetic, the pace quick, and the vocals deep and gravelly for the most part. But what I love most is the way in which the tempo shifts on a sixpence to leave you reeling, before unleashing a heavily synth-laden sci-fi-sounding section, where the vaguest hint of melody is enough to satisfy me; normally I need more in that direction, but so good is the composition that I don’t need anything more here. The atmosphere is marvellous, whilst the inclusion of what I think are acoustic guitars buried deep in the mix, and overt clean choral vocals add a touch of elegance to an otherwise unforgiving composition.
Equally as intriguing is the immediate follow-up, ‘Amniotic Bewilderment’. In fact, this is and has been my personal favourite for quite a while now. The opening is savage, as it explodes into existence in a tirade of fast riffs and even faster drumming. It is almost impossible to discern the musicality initially but familiarity allows for a greater clarity. From there, we get what I’d class as ‘old school’ death metal groove created by irresistible guitar riffs that then morph into the closest approximation Cosmic Putrefaction will probably ever get to the definition of ‘catchy’. Again, I should want more overt melody, but the blend of prog, groove, and atmosphere within a track that is otherwise as mind-bendingly complex and dissonant as it undeniably is, does the trick perfectly on this occasion.
Elsewhere, it is hard not to be impressed by the lead guitar solo that crops up within the aggressive and spiky ‘Twisting Spirals In The Murk’, that also features some of the darkest and oppressive synth-created atmospheres, augmented by the return of the acoustic guitar to add to the unease rather than enhance the melodic presence of the track. The atmosphere created by the bold synths within the extremities of ‘Lysergic Sulfuric Waters’ are equally as interesting, captivating, and impressive.
To be perfectly honest, it’s difficult to not be impressed by a great deal of this album. Ok, so you might need a few spins to get your head around things and adjust your mindset accordingly, but once you’ve sone so and you accept the fact that this isn’t going to be a light and fluffy listen, you start to appreciate the music more and more. When you also consider the fact that this record was written and drums/vocals aside, performed by one man, the whole experience just becomes even more amazing. I urge you to take a listen to ‘Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones’ by Cosmic Putrefaction and stick with it because if you do, the rewards are plentiful, I can guarantee you of that.
The Score of Much Metal: 87%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: