Do you smell it? It’s the scent of transience, the sweet perfume of decay and putrefaction. This is the odour of death…
The project Odour Of Death started in 2016, born out of the (twisted) mind of Polish musician Kolan. This guy was / is also active in acts like Antisemitex, Severe Storm or Defenders Of Europe, FYI. He joined forces with nobody (got it?), I mean, with R.Hate (of Grimcult fame), becoming the lead vocalist for Odour Of Death. Throughout the years, Kolan and R.Hate did write and record some interesting material, eventually released as Odour Of Death (EP; Lower Silesian Stronghold, 2016), In Search Of Eternal Darkness (Darker Than Black Records, 2017), and a split with Polish colleagues Martwa Aura (Under The Sign Of Garazel Productions + Putrid Cult, 2019).
[question, although of minor importance: are these guys still located in Poland, or did they move over to the British islands?]
In Fall 2019, Kolan wrote some new stuff – R.Hate some new texts – which eventually got gathered as Satanic Devotion. For that release, the project decided to work with Lower Silesian Stronghold once more, assisted by their pacifist friends (evidently) of Doomsday Elite. The result, being four new hymns and one cover track, got pressed on compact disc, being a three-folded digipack, limited to 300 copies. It’s a sober release – just black ‘n’ white, including the lyrics, a band picture and some recording information – no unnecessary gimmicks or stuff whatever. Limited to the essence it is, just like the sonic side of this newest release.
This mini-album, which clocks twenty-four minutes, opens with the track Devotion, which is a majestic sonic monument (= personal opinion; but waw!). It is a very slow piece, highly hypnotic and bewitching. Devotion is actually constructed around mesmerizing melodies, done by dreamlike tremolo leads in the first place. All this gets heavily supported by a fabulous rhythm section, which consists of firm, pushing rhythm strings and unique, somewhat tribal drums. And then those vocals, raspy and deep. Anyway, this is Black, Doom, Drone, Sludge, Pagan, Funeral, Satanic worship, with crafted guitar solo work, unique percussion patterns and above all, such captivating, enthralling atmosphere.
[for what it’s worth, and this must actually be ignored as part of my review because of the subjectivity; but Devotion is one of the most sensual, intriguing -and addictive !- songs I’ve heard in such a long time - Ivan]
The three next tracks, Influenced By Satan, Silesian Satanist Pride and Tonight, are not that slow, yet at least as epic and intense. Influenced By Satan is a mainly up-tempo piece (including some faster excerpts, like the opening sequence) with an overwhelming performance and some frenzy, disturbing outbursts. At about two minutes, for example, there’s that Post-Black eruption, naturally injected within the victorious yet ultra-bleak blackened approach. A reference to Norway’s Nordic scene would not be that strange at all. Silesian Satanist Pride is very pounding, mid- to up-tempo and energetic, with a massive wall of guitars and those snarling and growling grunts. Here too, the rhythm and bass guitars at the one hand, and the thunderous drum structures, are like a colossal mainstay to support the melodious eminence, based on dual tremolo riffing especially. Tonight sort of continues that path, combining esoteric guitar leads with epic bass and rhythm guitars, victorious drums and deep-guttural screams. It is unique to experience the variation in tempo and structure; imagine those, well, almost mysterious (!) breaks -and there are many- in this wonderful hymn. Hail the horned one!
Satanic Devotion ends with a cover; it’s not the first time that Odour Of Death sort of tributes by covering a track by one of those bands that were of influence, or a source of inspiration. This time it’s Enter The Eternal Fire by some band called Ratlord – no, it’s Bathory, apparently, haha. Seriously, Bathory caused my blackened illness more than three decades ago (translation: it was because of Quorthon especially that I sold my soul to Black Metal somewhere during the second half of the Eighties; no further comment). So, I am always extremely prudent when listening to a cover of this incomparable Swedish act. I do own some tribute-compilations, and many albums which include a Bathory cover, and I am often disappointed, sometimes even insulted, by the result. But hey, this is another story. Okay, let’s be honest: the original version of Enter The Eternal Fire is, and will always be, the one and only version that, eh, breathes Bathory as in ‘bathory’. But you know, this reinterpretation is not that bad at all. It’s cool to notice that Odour Of Death did not have the intention just to ‘repeat’ that (legendary) piece; instead they do reinterpret this song with an own twist, staying true to the original atmosphere, yet with an own interpretation in both execution and sound. And you know, I think it does work.
And just for your information: in the meantime, Lower Silesian Stronghold released an LP (12” vinyl) which is a compilation of two EP’s by Odour Of Death: 2016’s self-titled debut and this one, Satanic Devotion, both of them being remastered for this remarkable compilation exclusively. 300 copies have been printed under the working title Satan & Death.
[PS: I don’t give points anymore since a long time, for that’s such [censorship], but this release could have a score that surely would start with a ‘9’]