The day after Valentine’s Day, this debut dropped from Conjureth, the band that has risen from the ashes of Ghoulgotha. Ghoulgotha were a death-doom band out of San Diego, California, that put out two LPs, an EP, and two splits from 2012 to 2016 before splitting up. Three of their members reunited to form Conjureth, a band that excels in melancholic and foreboding old-school death metal.
The line-up for the Foul Formations demo is:
Wayne Sarantopoulos (Ghoulgotha, Encoffination, ex-Eternal Suffering) – Vocals, guitar, bass
Ian Mann (Ghoulgotha, VoidCeremony) – Lead guitar
Frankie Saenz (Ghoulgotha) – Drums, bass
I grabbed a copy of the CD version of Foul Formations as soon as I heard about it. The CD is what is used for this review, which was independently released by the band.
The cover art by Erskine Designs appropriately reflects the sound of the album. A solitary figure stands overwhelmed at the feet of a rigid, cavernous structure that expands in all directions. Pointed surfaces extend out from the floors and ceilings, and even emerge from the highlighted center of the cavern. The digital version of the artwork includes highlights of pink and purple; however the printed version is more muted, with those colors seeming more blue and grey.
The sound is raw, but the polished sort of raw that you expect from an LP, rather than a debut. The music is mostly mid-paced death metal, but with a good bit of atmosphere, and accents that include solos, melodic passages, and leads. Vocals are of the guttural variety, but with a mix of mids and highs that are subtle enough to not discourage people with an aversion to higher-pitched vocals. I want to emphasize that this isn’t generic-sounding old school death metal because there’s something unique about the sound of Conjureth’s riffs. They have a feeling of movement to them, of churning and forward momentum that pairs well with the atmosphere that the album establishes and maintains. Also novel is the use of the snare drum on this album, as it is implemented in a way to emphasize specific moments in the musical passages as well as being used to emphasize vocal patterns, causing the gutturals to hit with that much more of a wallop.
There are only four songs on this demo which cumulatively clock in at just under thirteen minutes: ‘The Void Caressed,’ ‘At the Foot of Kneeling Worlds,’ ‘Clotted Scripture,’ and ‘Ghost Infinity.’
‘The Void Caressed’ kicks off the demo in full force with a main riff full of fretboard movement. Dreary lyrics follow along with the creative snare work of Frankie Saenz. Halfway through the song, it goes into a heavy groove before transitioning into a catchy melodic passage that adds levity before reprising. The chorus is repeated towards the end with high screams layered over guttural growls.
‘At the Foot of Kneeling Worlds’ similarly begins with a riff that feels full of churning, circular momentum as it entrenches the listener in a tale of abstract despair with poetic lines such as ‘bones fed red flowers’ in its descriptions of man’s end. This song includes a couple of great melodic leads/short solos that act as bookends for a slower, more spacious passage that repeats with layered vocals during the song’s climactic final moments.
‘Clotted Scripture’ and ‘Ghost Infinity’ take the lyrical content into more religious territory while continuing the album’s focus on nihilistic despair. Each of the four songs on this album are as consistent as the rest, and each serves as an incredible introduction to a new and promising band. My only complaint about this demo is that it has so few songs. I want more.
In a time where new old school death metal acts are a dime a dozen, I’d say Conjureth easily stand apart from the pack, and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
Not convinced? Give it a listen yourself:
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