Review: Diocletian – Gesundrian

Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Genre: Death/Black Metal
Released: May 13, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

Diocleatian has been active since 2004, and Gesundrian is their third full-length release. New Zealand isn’t known for being a prominent producer of heavy metal; this list of “essential New Zealand metal bands” contains nobody that I am familiar with. For all intents and purposes, Gesundrian is my first encounter of Kiwi metal. What initially drew my attention is their first official EP, the incredibly raw Decimator from 2007. Thankfully, the production has improved markedly but the band still maintains a certain raw edge to their sound.

As for what the best songs are, I can’t really make that conclusion because most of them are very similar to each other, with minor nuances that make them stand out at least a little bit. In general, you should expect mid-to-uptempo death metal riffs with downtuned guitars and triplet blast beats. A possible comparison is Behemoth’s Zos Kia Cultus, and one song, “Steel Jaws,” specifically reminded me of Behemoth. But even though the formula here is fairly standard, there’s plenty of unique moments that help this record stand out.

The aforementioned “Steel Jaws” starts with an absolutely chunky bass riff and boasts the album’s only resemblance of a guitar solo. “Summoning Fear” is the fastest track, at least for most of it, and has a dual vocal “chorus” that adds more aggression to an already punishing song. “Beast Atop The Trapezoid,” aside from having a unique name in and of itself, has an effective breakdown. The closer, “Zealot’s Poison,” is a short, relatively straightforward thrashing number. “Wolf Against Serpent” has the highest-tuned guitars here and is probably the most accessible track.  The opener, “Cleaved Asunder,” wastes three minutes with a generic sword fighting and horse-neighing intro before setting the mood with a doom-esque song, not unlike the title track to Decimator. “Wretched Sons” and “Traitor’s Gallow” are extremely similar to each other, each with almost the same length, similarly fast and low-tuned guitars.

Overall: Gesundrian probably won’t knock your socks off a thousand times over, but it’s definitely worth a spin.

Rating: 3.0*


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