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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Review: Omenfilth – Devourer of the Seven Moons

Label: Moon Records

Date: May 27th, 2021

There is a number of things to discuss about this record. And I’ll get to them eventually. But the sum of it all is that this is the best of Philippines’ scene I’ve heard to date.

Not only did we get quite a decent production. The technology is out there and it is fairly easy to get a solid sound, though Omenfilth’s is far from the best around. Fact is that this quartet escaped the primitiveness that for a long time encapsulated many of their countrymen. What’s more, the Philippines’ horde has a good command of English language, so that even their lyrics, though somewhat simplified, are a far cry from the basic, grammatically incorrect, shouts we’re used to getting from there.

When the music itself is concerned, you might conclude from the title that it has to be all about some black metal. And you would be correct. Though the album is not off to a good start, with a raw, “Darkthrone-ish” song called “Summon the Beast of Damnation”, the rest is much better. Even in that same track, there is a short guitar solo that certainly raises an eyebrow. Although it seems a bit out of place in that particular song.

From the next song onwards, Omenfilth’s black metal is slightly laced with death metal and even some subtle folk moments. Those elements are much more accentuated on the bonus part of the album, where you can hear the entire “Iconoclasis of Venomous Transfiguration” EP. On the actual album, it is laid in the background. Especially the folklore parts that you can only find in a couple of intermezzo pieces.

But the creative spark is there and that is the most important. Lead guitars take the leading role, as is to be expected. Sort of reminiscent to early Dark Funeral. In the more melodic moments of the bonus EP you can also get connotations with mighty Dissection, in their later phase. The most obvious though, remain the guitars. Unfortunately, the muffled production that offers way too much bass, conceals some of the potency of “Devourer of the Seven Moons”. Still, there is more than enough left audible to get a clear picture about what Omenfilth is capable of.

And they are plenty capable. Rhythms intersect and intertwine, making for an interesting sonic journey. When the band speeds up you hear this flesh cutting chill of 1990’s Scandinavia. When they slow down, it’s all about bone crushing weight and brutality. With a couple of quite catchy riffs, nicely entwined solos and convincing vocals, you get a coherent image of a band that has the know-how.

There are also a couple of covers on the CD which you might find surprising. Vulcano comes in handy, actually, since they perform this combination of black and death metal that had obvious influence on Omenfilth’s own sound. As for the Mercyful Fate… Though “Omenfilthered”, it still feels a bit out of place on the record. Even on the “death metallized” EP.

When it comes to the mentioned folklore motifs, lyrics come up as a subject. Granted, I’m no expert in the subject of pagan ancestry of the country. Though I would like to learn a thing or two (some literature recommendations boys, if you don’t mind). But the mention of Bakunaua, the dragon of the sea, and Bawo got me curious. Musically speaking, the melodic lead in “Immortal Oblivion” sounds eastern enough that I have this feeling it is also a derivate of old Philippines’ music. Reminded me of Japanese Sabbat for a moment there.

Anyways, the last topic at hand when it comes to “Devourer of the Seven Moons” is the cover artwork. Yet again, mysterious, eastern infused, magical… Fits like a glove. Much better than the original one. By the way, I haven’t told you this before, but the CD in my hands is actually a re-release of the 2019 album by Omenfilth.

All that’s been written here should lead you to one conclusion. Go ahead and get this record As soon as possible. The truth is, this release is no masterpiece. It is not a must-have. Even though Omenfilth proves to be the leading force, at least from my experience, on the Philippines’ scene, and the record displays a good enough level of creativity. I need a bit more hooks to keep me glued to an album. Above average it most definitely is. And you should get it, support the band, the label, hear what’s new in this exotic country and get a couple of nice hours out of a few spins. But I would still recommend this band for the sheer potential they possess.

Their most recent split record came out this year and I have high hopes. As for “Devourer of the Seven Moons”, a good job but not yet great.