Put together members of Kill The Client, Baring Teeth and Tyrannosorceress and what you get is old school death metal powerhouse Cleric. The band from Texas, with their full length, Gratum Inferno, is set on bringing back the aura and sound of the old school Swedish death metal scene. That is right guys, if what you like is the classic Sunlight Studios chainsaw guitar sound, combined with the disturbing heavy groove and attitude of the late 80s and early 90s, then Cleric is a band you really want to check out.
The short length of the album (about thirty minutes) makes the listening process even more devastating. Clericbring forth a bludgeoning assault, starting with the disturbing intro of the title track, soon to be followed by the infectious leads, influenced by Dismember and Entombed. The vocals come straight through the abyss, set to drag you into the darkness while the drums and bass are building the shattering groove of the song. Of course Cleric are not as one-dimensional as to only rely on the groove. They unleash in many occasions faster, more aggressive parts, filled with influences from the proto-death metal bands (the paranoid solo in the end of the title track for instance), enriched with sonic characteristics found in the old school US death metal scene.
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“Through the Starless Abyss” pins you to the wall, letting loose waves of destruction. The short length of the track works in the band’s advantage, as it does not tire the listener, and its unreal groove and the sickening guitar leads are bringing together a perfect storm of malice. That ties in perfectly with the endless headbanging that Cleric are getting ready to bring forth with “From Womb To Tomb”, a track drenched into the old school Swedish death metal sound. Even with their shorter tracks, Cleric manage to find enough room to switch between different modes, from the ferocious, fast parts to the slow, heavier moments without any hesitation or sense of remorse.
Soon enough they open up “Satanic Dimensions”, bringing the bone crushing theme of their music to a whole different level, in what can be described as, the highlight of the album. “Into Death and Far Beyond”, which includes an interesting sample in the beginning, sees the band’s death metal riffs and attitude still at large, reaching a peak near the end with the face melting guitar solo. At the same time Cleric’s “Left Hand Wrath” comes in full force, reaching shocking levels of brutality, with the slower pace revealing all of the band’s spite and the faster parts offering the necessary variety. Finally the imposing start of “Faith in Debauchery” sees the band developing an imposing sound before they decide to erupt the track into what can only be described as full-blown ruthless aggression.
With their debut album, Cleric were able to bring the aura of the old school death metal sound. Gratum Inferno simply is one of these albums that recalls memories of times past, but the way this band is performing and their genuine love for the old school sound makes you wonder if those times are actually truly past. This is an excellent release, an album every death metal fan should listen to.