Published May 14, 2019Accursed is the latest EP from Denver's resident technical death metal purveyors Vale of Pnath. It's the band's first material since their sophomore album, II, was released in 2016, a record that refined their tight brand of tech death with a stronger sense of melody. Accursed furthers their sound even more, and feels like the first step in a new direction for the band.
What really separates Accursed from the rest of their albums is the overt influence of black metal, especially in vocalist Reese Deeter's ragged shrieks. Songs "The Darkest Gate" and "Skin Turned Soil" feature saturated guitars that would feel at home on a Burzum or Darkthrone record. The band also incorporate symphonic elements into the album, embellishing breakdowns with soaring orchestral arrangements. It works well, and adds ambience to their sound.
The remainder of the album veers more into melodic death metal territory and loses its edge. The riffs here are tight as brickwork and darkly neoclassical, but very colour-by-numbers compositionally. There's a lot of the Black Dahlia Murder in these songs, especially "Obsidian Realm." The closest resemblance to Vale of Pnath's previous work is found in "Spectre of Bone," but Obscura style riffs and Andy Torres' bass work remind you this is still technical death metal throughout.
Accursed is a vehicle for Vale of Pnath to explore interesting new directions, especially their chilling application of sounds associated with black metal. It's tasteful, but derivative; songs and riffs become indistinguishable, and only a few moments on here feel like they could only have come from Vale of Pnath. It works best as a hint of what to expect next from the band, but doesn't quite feel like the finished product yet. (Willowtip)