By The Patient

Gehenna

Written by: AP on 05/02/2015 12:38:55

With four studio releases in as many years (“Catenation of Adversity” EP, 2009; “Servants”, 2010; “Premonitions”, 2012; and “Afterbirth” EP, 2013), By the Patient are justifiably revered as one of the most hard working, and consistent metal bands in Denmark. Each successive record has introduced to their sound a new element, and true to tradition, on this third and latest full-length “Gehenna”, they’ve moved - in their own view - closer toward a blackened thrash metal style, whilst simultaneously ensuring the music remains recognisably theirs. As such, those fans to whom the band’s fusion of U.S. death metal with Scandinavian grandeur is sacred need not be worried, for as ever, By the Patient stick to their ethos, which has proven so successful that “Gehenna” was, in fact, picked up by German heavyweight metal label Lifeforce.

The album is something of a bittersweet experience, in that it is the last to feature longtime vocalist Tan Møhl-Hansen who recently exited the band in order to pursue other musical interests (By the Patient have since opted to carry on as a quartet, with guitarist Simon Sonne Andersen now bearing the brunt of the vocal duties, with assistance from bassist Troels Cort Nielsen & guitarist Theis Wilmer Poulsen). But at the same time, Møhl-Hansen can take pride in the fact he concludes this life chapter with a swan song of the finest order in “Gehenna”, By the Patient once again adding weight to the argument that they not only belong in the upper echelons of Danish extreme metal - they’re also a serious candidate for claiming the throne. It certainly aids their cause that as ever, “Gehenna” bears witness to a band willing to shun conventions and vary their approach. The album has its roots in death metal, but across its nine tracks there’s a wealth of other influences at play, to the extent that touches of bands as diverse as Behemoth, Gojira, Goatwhore and Misery Index are readily audible whichever track one cues.

Now three studio albums into their career, By the Patient no longer suffer from indeterminism - a common woe of debutants - and as a result “Gehenna” is an immensely focused piece of music. The songs are wrapped into a distinctly Scandinavian production, the crackling tone of the guitars and the vastitude of the soundscape combining to forge a sound both eerie and enormous. This symbiosis is best heard in the humbling crescendo of “The Sleep” and “This Barren Earth”, both of which enlist the awesome power of tremolo and blast beats to send them soaring toward grandeur in a perfect marriage of death, black and post-metal. With these songs, as well as the progressive colossus “Omnivore” at the rear of the album, By the Patient pay tribute to their regional heritage capturing the darkness, melancholia, and barren beauty most people would associate with the Nordic countries.

Although subjectively speaking, these are the tracks that arouse the greatest intrigue, there are other stylistic directions pursued, too, each boasting their own set of merits: “Ruled by the Dead” plays its role as an opener with ease, initiating the proceedings with an effective lead melody and a chorus to remember, while “Web of Beliefs” later on delves into the groove of thrash for its deployment of incendiary riffage and an eerie, Slayer-worthy bridge. Together with those mentioned in the previous paragraph, these tracks form a mighty backbone for an album on which decidedly weak moments are few and far in between. “Deceiver”, with its gruelling foundation of black metal, and “Snakes”, which draws its allure from a stomping, if somewhat unadventurous thrash riff, may not live up to the standard set by the quintet of tracks hitherto discussed, but even so they subscribe to the red chord and make a decent enough impression to maintain my undivided attention. Only the title track proves a dubious choice really, as throughout its 6:39-minute running length the doom ridden ideas upon which it rests remain stuck in a slow dirge that never seems to resolve.

At just nine tracks “Gehenna” is a relatively short record, and as such it leaves little room for mishaps. Fortunately, the songwriting prowess, technical abilities and persistent search for their own niche by which By the Patient is defined ensures the album never strays far from its core competencies, and the few lacklustre portions that are still there are easy to brush aside with the strength of the standout moments. “Gehenna” contains some of the best material the band has written to date, and with it, By the Patient raise the bar for the host of like minded bands Denmark has to offer, and for widespread international recognition of the nation’s metal community it is crucial that they continue to do so; to bear that flag and push the scene in new directions.

Download: Ruled by the Dead, Web of Beliefs, The Sleep, This Barren Earth
For the fans of: Fall of Pantheon, Goatwhore, Misery Index, Pataus
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.01.2015
Lifeforce Records

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