Reviewed: January 2023
Released: 2022, Whispering Voice Records
Reviewer: Sofia Idrissi
Initially formed in 1996, Cortege has had its fair share of trials and tribulations in order to finally get to their third studio album almost 26 years later. This Polish trio have released 12 tracks for their album ‘Vandari’. The album opens with ‘Reluded’ and sets a very high bar; this record will most definitely test your neck muscles. Low and raw vocals are delivered by Sebastian, who also plays bass, along with Drummer Kamil and guitarist Artur. This record sounds timeless; the type of death metal Cortege delivers would have been delightful for any DM enjoyers in the past 40 years. ‘Behind the Temple Veil’ is a seasoned and dark track with relentless tempo changes of hard-hitting drum kicks and loud riffs. The chaotic instrumentals end on quietly terrifying lyrics: “one glimpse is just enough to see no one is there”. The third track, ‘Tired of Dying’ bends in some old-school techniques of overlapping multiple vocals, almost like the many voices of lost souls. it then ends with blasting drum beats, which is, sure enough, a very clever audio metaphor that emphasises tiredness.
‘Collision Course’ really highlights the ‘death’ in this DM genre, with the harmonies of guitar melodies overlapping in the backdrop of militant drumming. The guitar solo sounds nostalgic but avant-garde; for me, this track is a true highlight and amalgamation of the experience the band members have. This track lets you comprehend what you have just listened to during the eerie short interlude of ‘Rahu’. Next, ‘Vandari’, is the title track and a play on words from a demon ‘vandals, darkness and I’ (created by the vocalist) that is akin to the terrible 1960’s sex cult demons. However, this was not a song which I found very head-bang worthy or very memorable. ‘Filth’, on the other hand, is the seventh track where the choice to not headbang is near impossible. It is suitably named not only for its lyrical content but also for the filthy face you need to make when hearing a damn-good nasty melody. Somehow, the guitar solo makes the song even better, which seems to give me 80s metal vibes, especially those of Judas priest. These vibes carry on into a less distorted and surprisingly beautiful interlude: ‘Mitote – the hum of a Thousand voices’.
‘On the Edge’ is one of those songs where you can definitely hear the inspiration of classic DM bands like Morbid Angel. ‘Purgatory’ is bursting with deathly energy, full of cymbal splashing and riffs which may repeat too often. The song fades into the last interlude, ‘Ketu’, which is just 63 seconds of what seems to be muffled sounds. The final track, ‘To Die, to Sleep, no More’ left me feeling a bit confused, it was no doubt a purposefully slower and unearthly sound compared to the songs which pleased the ears in the first half of the album, but maybe that was the point. Just like a cool-down exercise, this track only becomes interesting after 5 minutes and after a painfully longed-out vocal growl, ending with a short crescendo of all the instruments the 3-member band use. Overall, there is no hiding the talent and commitment Cortege has in delivering a deathly death metal album; I would love to hear more songs like in the beginning of the record.