Released: 2004, Skyscraper Music
Consider me thoroughly impressed. I had only heard this band’s debut, and man have they ever come a long way! Not only have they come a long way, but Quo Vadis have also released one of the strongest progressive/technical death metal albums of 2004! I don’t normally listen to a lot of death metal but this band won me over on first listen. They have managed to keep the brutality but have also added in a lot of melody. In terms of style, a close band to this would be the mighty Death although (dare I say it) this is oftentimes more adventurous. Also in the same galaxy would be fellow Canadian band Into Eternity. Quo Vadis doesn’t get quite as progressive nor do they use clean/harmony vocals that the godlike Into Eternity employs. Despite the differences, if you like Death and Into Eternity I really think you’d love this Quebec-based Canadian band.
For the recording line-up, the vacant bass spot was filled by legendary bassgod-band-slut Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Control Denied, Iced Earth, Sadus, Vintersorg, etc.). Before this album, the band had a few line-up changes but they have emerged stronger. The level of musicianship on the album is top notch from the bass playing, guitars and leads, to the insane drumming of Yanic Bercier. Besides the playing ability, this band has great songs. What I liked about their style is that they create memorable structures and include elements that some death metal bands would shy away from. The trick is, they do this but still stay within the realms of brutality. A perfect example would be how the classical choir piece "In Articulo Mortis" intros the more brutal “Fate’s Descent”. The intro contains male and female choirs sung in Latin, backed by piano and cello. From what I can tell from the credits, the band owes a lot to guest musician Roxanne Constantin. She is responsible for the string/piano/choir arrangements, Latin translations, and she plays the keys (not a lot to be heard, but they show up). I hope that her input is welcomed on the band’s next release!!
So onto the songs on DEFIANT IMAGINATION….Things begin with speedy machine gun styled riffing followed by the snare drum. Then comes in a nearly 20-second long guttural RAAAAAAAAAA!! Brutal! This is the track “Silence Calls The Storm”. The ensuing guitar melody lines and fretless bass insanity of DiGiorgio is excellent…the next thing you’ll notice is the tight, technical drumming…wow! Every time I hear this, I hear a new bass run, new melodies, etc. Next is “In Contempt” which starts with crazier drumming kept palpable for non-drum freaks by the riffing. This is the song for which the band is currently filming a video. The song is not as diverse as some on the album since it stays brutal all the way through. Track 3, “Break the Cycle”, sounds more progressive and in places like a song from Death. “To The Bitter End” has a great intro with cooler drumming before the song mores into a more prog-death feel. Next is one of the albums highlights with the intro of "In Articulo Mortis" followed by “Fate’s Descent”. Both are a tribute to the sadly departed Chuck Schuldiner of Death. Rather than cover a song by the band, they felt a more fitting tribute would be to write a song in the vein of Death. The intro is hauntingly beautiful and “Fate’s Descent” pays fine homage to one of metal’s most influential. The last full song on here is also another of my favorites. “Dead Man’s Diary” starts out mid-paced and has some slight keys in the background. Having some material, or at least sections of songs, that is not all break-neck is key for me. The album closes with “Ego Intuo et Servo Te” which has some female operatic vocals. The song is short lived and is more like and intro…well in this case the album outro…either way, it shows that there are elements of the band’s sound that are left unexplored on this album. I hope they continue to push the boundaries of their style and incorporate more elements like this while at the same time staying as heavy as they are now…this is what makes them a little more unique than the average band and in my opinion, makes them stand above others.
This could be the album that gets Quo Vadis the status and fans they deserve. If you like death metal that is melodic, but not of the Gothenburg style, with progressive and technical elements you have to check these guys out now!!!