Ever seen that slasher film Black Christmas? Doesn’t matter which version. The first victim in both the 1974 original and the 2006 remake is dispatched in exactly the same way: suffocated with a plastic bag. Something about that scene horrified me on an almost primal level—much more so than any of the kill scenes in the average Friday the 13th or Halloween film—and simply thinking about it now is causing my pulse rate to elevate slightly.
So why even bring it up? Because oddly enough, the death metal bands I enjoy the most tend to the ones that evoke the same sort of reaction from me as that plastic bag suffocation scene. Yeah…I don’t really get it, either. All I know is that long-running California death metal outfit Valdur hit that fear of suffocation sweet spot on their fifth full-length Divine Cessation, which we’re thrilled to be premiering below.
At this point, after almost twenty years on the scene, Valdur is a band of few words. Their official Facebook page, the band’s lone concession to social media, has seen only six posts in the last two years, two of which came this month in the form of track premieres. Even fewer interview with the band are to be found online. Fortunately, their music really does say everything that needs saying. On the seven tracks that comprise Divine Cessation drummer/founding member Matthew (aka Lord Sxuperon), longtime bassist William (fka Satan’s Chainsaw), and relative newcomers Vuke on guitars and vocalist JF make death metal in the same timeless vein as early Incantation and Demilich – immune to trends, free from studio fuckery, and as foul as a freshly unearthed crypt. It’s also relentlessly aggressive regardless of tempo: the tremolo-picked opening riff of “Breath of the Beast,” the eerily slow passages of “The Tail,” and the mid-tempo burn of “Seething Disgust” all make for equally unsettling listening. And when all three tempos collide, like they do on the face-fuckingly brutal closing duo of “Plague Born of a Dying Black Star” and “Potent Black Orb,” Valdur makes a pretty strong claim to the title of best death metal band in the US, if not the world.
And, of course, the whole album feels as suffocating as a plastic bag over the head.
Divine Cessation will be available on December 1 via Bloody Mountain Records.