Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Saloth - Ruled By The Death God

 It's likely that everyone is getting tired of the Armon Nicholson projects but the catalog of work he has put out is one of the few examples I can think of where a single person has put out a substantial amount of material in a short span of time that are not demos, splits, or compilation appearances and in which the majority of the material is strong enough to warrant inquiry. Saloth's Ruled By The Death God skirts the fringes of both black metal and death metal - as Armon often does - in his uniquely produced manner. Saloth is likely the hybrid growth of his Yfel and Licrest projects but the death metal techniques from Tyrant's Hand and Murderbeast appear often. I can't tell, but Saloth may be the lowest tuned of all his projects as every chug in opening track "Proselytizer of Darkness" is a rumble of seismic proportions. We end up with a bizarre vibe of equal parts evil occult and doomy chillness.

Perhaps most important here is that I firmly feel this is the best sounding of his projects. I don't know how much impact Dustin Jeffries had in the engineering and mixing aspect of Ruled By the Death God but the clarity and space in this recording is just a step above Armon's other releases. Armon's vocals are a gritty low roar fighting with the lows of the bass. The guitar tone is chunky and stoic during palm muted portions of the release and exude a fizzy crisp distortion otherwise. Perhaps the drums could have been a bit louder, but doing so would draw attention to the what is the weakest element of the recording due to lack of natural tone and fullness. Armon's leads shine across the whole record - there are a handful of them - but particularly in opening track "Proselytizer of Darkness" and "Glory To Chaos."

Ruled By The Death God is mostly mid paced and at times crawls with a doom death urgency - once again indicative of the crossover from Licrest - but "Only In Darkness" offers an upbeat ride unlike the previous tracks. The opening tracks all being relatively slower might be a hindrance. Initial listens are unlikely to gain anyone's attention if there is an expectation of faster tracks existing. It takes half the album to reach the first "quicker" track. The fade out of "Ich Bin Das Ende" seems to prompt more than is offered by "To Avoid The Truth," which, to my ears, is bland. I almost would have plopped "Infinite" in the third spot on the album; this faster track would have broken up the six earlier slow tracks. "Infinite," with some tremolo picking and ringing notes is the most black metal track of the release. The album ends with "Glory To Chaos" which, because of it's catchy bass intro, killer solo section and persistent momentum is my pick for best track along with opener "Proselytizer of Darkness."

Presentation is your standard Nicholson. Once again we are missing lyrics - which I maintain would likely be very good if Armon put some thought into them (Those couple angsty Licrest tracks aside) - and a very basic jewel case insert lacks much additional artistic insight. The CD artwork is a cropped version of the cover artwork which cuts off the title of the album appearing a bit rushed. It would have been easy to adjust the artwork to fit the CD better. The actual cover artwork by Luciana Nedelea is visually appealing and representative - I guess - of the project.

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