Artist: Denouncement Pyre
Album Title: Forever Burning
Label: Agonia Records
Date of Release: 17 June 2022
It wasn’t until I was doing my research ahead of this release, that I realised just how many bands that fall into the black/death/thrash arena hail from Australia. The most famous of these is arguably Deströyer 666, about which I am at least slightly familiar. However, the list also includes the likes of Nocturnal Graves, Impious Baptism, and Destruktor to name but a few. And to that list, we must also add Denouncement Pyre. I’ll admit that I wasn’t familiar at all with the name, but I figured I’d give the fourth album of this Melbourne-based quartet a listen. It was a decision, if I’m honest, based on a combination of the cover artwork, illegible logo, and the fact that ‘Forever Burning’ finds itself on the relatively reliable Agonia Records.
As with many bands of their ilk, the quartet that makes up Denouncement Pyre are cloaked in anonymity. Mercifully they don’t have names like ‘Bludgeoner’ or ‘Havokwreaker’ – instead, it’s simply initials, namely D (vocals and guitars), T (guitars), R (bass and backing vocals), and drummer L. They talk a good fight, stating that the music on this album “represents a fiery will that cannot be broken…a homage to the triumph and tribulations of those who walk the path of fire. With the limitations of the mundane world fiercely aligned against us, we charge forth, unwavering, unbound! Forever Burning!”
I’m sure you’ll agree that this is essentially a middle finger attitude, aimed at all those that might seek to oppose the band and their brand of music. And as it turns out, the attitude and the music go hand in hand because ‘Forever Burning’ is a 40-minute barrage of unbridled menace, aggression, and bristling attitude. Not that this should come as any kind of surprise though, because none of us listen to this kind of music to learn more about fluffy animals or the delicate charms of garden fairies. Music that incorporates death, black, and thrash metal is meant to be nasty and full of spite. So strike one for Denouncement Pyre.
There is a great deal to like within ‘Forever Burning’, but if I am going to be 100% fair and honest, there’s just something ever so slightly missing overall which impedes some of my enjoyment. What you do get is plenty of cold, icy riffs in the minor key, lots of brisk and unrelenting blastbeats, a nicely rumbling bass, wild lead breaks and wailing guitars, and caustic, venomous rasping growls. There are even times when the music veers into slightly slower, more groove-oriented passages, or the band deliver a melody or two. It sounds like a great combination on paper, and the reality isn’t bad either. But it isn’t absolutely knocking my socks off and that’s a little disappointing.
After further reflection in an effort to untangle my thoughts on this record, I think there are a couple of reasons why ‘Forever Burning’ is just ‘good’ and not essential in my opinion. Firstly, I find the general unrelenting nature of the music, coupled with the production to be a little wearing. Even at the halfway mark, it feels like I’ve been listening for a lot longer than I actually have. And by the end, I need to give my ears a bit of a rest. That’s not because the music is too insanely heavy or overly extreme for my tastes. But when you take the rather abrasive-sounding production and add in fast-picked riffs and incessant double pedal drumming, it creates no small amount of fatigue within me.
I also think things would be far more enjoyable with greater variety woven into the music. When there’s a hint of melody or a slower, groovier section, I find the material resonates with me just a little more, creating some extra memorability. Take the opening title track as an example of all that is so right about Denouncement Pyre. It kicks off at a brisk pace with the black metal elements most prominent, especially when the lead guitar lines come in to add some frosty melody. But there’s a demonstrable thrash attitude which further manifests itself in a fast, wailing lead guitar solo. And later, the band inject a really cool groove that gets my head nodding appreciatively.
There’s a lovely melody-tinged solo buried deep within ‘Tongues Stretched For Salvation’ but the bulk of the song does little for me, even when some sampled voices are added to the quieter section to provide something a little different. The best song on ‘Forever Burning’ as far as I’m concerned is the charmingly titled ‘Burn This World And Start Again’ which benefits from a much greater degree of groove and has some melodic refrains and leads that prove that these Aussies can do it when they want to. I just wish they’d want to do it a little more often throughout this record.
Therefore, as solid and uncompromising as ‘Forever Burning’ undeniably is, I find that I am left just a little cold by it. I have literally no doubt that real afficionados of this style of music will rubbish my review and love every sadistic, hate-filled note. But I speak as I find and aside from a few of the tracks on offer, I don’t hear enough to allow me to wax lyrical about this album, or to add it to my collection.
The Score of Much Metal: 71%
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