This particular excursion into hell begins, appropriately, with "Last Rites," a magnificent launching point for the record. An extended intro unfurls for almost ninety seconds until vocals are unleashed and, immediately, the mix for Denied Salvation seems right on. The sound is richer, broader, heavier with vocals enveloped by layers of guitars, bass and drums. It is the rhythm section that I found to be slightly underrepresented on The Condemned that really gets their due here, with J.D. Henderly's exceptional bass and Taylor Emerine's percussion appropriately prominent. Guitars are not given short shrift, for that matter, and Luke and Jacob Shively's stellar contributions blend marvelously, establishing an exceptionally cohesive sound that retains enough of a ragged edge to remind the listener that they do not tread upon safe ground here. This is metal; the tempos are breakneck, the lyric diabolical, the volume loud, the leads brief but searing, the vocals wicked. Proceed at your own peril.
"Perpetual Malice," the EP's lead-off single, has been out and available since February 1st and is a rock-solid representation of what Denied Salvation - and the band - have to offer. Dismemberment have melded the rapid-fire aggression of thrash with the sinister atmospheres of black metal. There's a technical and mature mastery of musicianship on display here paired with simply superb songwriting ability. It is hard for this listener to grasp that, for a band with only six songs previously released to the world, they're already at this level of composition. It's like some goddamn version of Athena, bursting fully grown and armored from the skull of Zeus.
"Reap What You Sow" follows and is diabolically good, particularly when the song breaks down at 2:16, with furious riffing, Emerine firing on all cylinders, and Luke belching out... devastate... denial of those untrue... annihilate... this planet becomes your tomb. "Gateways to the Past," though, is my immediate favorite track on Denied Salvation. The little nuances, from Emerine's cymbal strikes to Henderly's solitary, furious eight notes at 1:05, show a band with a focus on a larger picture. Out of the gate we have another glorious head-banger, to be sure, but there's a depth here that rewards listening from a more analytical perspective as well. Denied Salvation closes strong with "System to Rise," a number that Dismemberment were performing when I first caught them live in October of 2011. For all the uptempo work on Denied Salvation, "System to Rise" is turned up even a notch higher and closes the record in fine, frenetic fashion. Dismemberment don't go out quietly. They rage, exit with the adrenaline at an all-time high and leave the listener hungry for more.
Simply put, Denied Salvation is another all-out winner from Dismemberment. I should be begging for a full-length record at this point but these guys somehow found a way to fully satisfy with an EP yet again. Most importantly, Denied Salvation serves as proof positive that Dismemberment have, this soon into their career, established a signature sound not quite like any other. It's a frantic malevolence - not brooding but instead elegantly brutal. There's a real vicious, sadistic brand of genius at work here. Fucking black magic, that's what it is.
Denied Salvation will be released on March 17th, 2012. Grab a copy at the band's release show or head to their Facebook page for all the details on how to add this excellent album to your collection as soon as possible.