Reviewed: March, 2018
Released: 2018 Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
In the seven years since their debut, Veni Vidi Vomui (which I believe translates as “I Came, I Saw, I Vomited,” yum!), Lebanese extremists Kaoteon relocated to Amsterdam, shed awesomely named long-time drummer Ziad Blaster and managed to finally produce a follow-up. The changes have definitely worked in the band’s favor.
In the far more liberal and permissive Netherlands, they shouldn’t have to worry about the harassment from moral authorities they faced as a black metal-oriented act in Lebanon. And after losing Mr. Blaster, the main members – namesake guitarist Anthony Kaoteon and vocalist Walid Wolflust – managed to round up an all-star support cast/rhythm section in Obscura bassist Linus Klausenitzer and Marduk drummer Fredrik Widigs to lend a hand on Damnatio Memoriae.
The result is an absolutely ferocious second album that channels the vehemence and dexterity of Behemoth with the raw, teeth-gnashing intensity of Marduk and the unhinged venom of Anaal Nathrakh. “This is your judgment!!!” Wolflust roars as the title track kicks off the album, and when the band kicks things into gear behind it they deliver said judgment with brutal authority.
True to his surname, Wolflust is like a rabid animal behind the mic, breathlessly shrieking and shouting for all he’s worth much of the way through on “Raging Hellfire,” “Venom Exalt,” “Into The Mouth of Kaos,” etc. His unbridled fury is really something to behold, and unlike Anaal Nathrakh’s flame-throwing frontman Dave Hall, there are no melodious cleans to lighten the mood or inject a hint of melody – the largely spoken rasps on “Hellfire” really don’t count.
With the aid of Klausenitzer and Widigs, Kaoteon (both man and band) match the vocalist’s assaultive delivery. The guest musicians are the perfect choice in both instances, with Klausenitzer’s fleet, fluid, almost proggy bottom end playing counter to Widigs’ militant battery and Kaoteon’s frantic, sawing riffs. The pace is relentless, the arrangements turbulent and the overall clamor is unapologetically in your face, aided by the brash mix/master from Swedish producer Daniel (Dark Funeral, Behemoth, Meshuggah) Bergstrand.
Damnatio Memoriae’s single-minded attack mode can be a bit overbearing when taken all at once – even at a relatively lean 43 minutes. But there’s no denying the conviction of the band, and especially Wolflust, who never drops his guard or yields an inch.