Recorded during 2020 and 2021 at Dark Angel Media Labs. Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Oscar Rangel at Dark Angel Media Labs. Lyrics and Music by Self-Deceiver. Arrangenments by Oscar Rangel. Logo, Illustration and Design by JACOME artworks. Released Thursday 1 December 2022.
Across the Styx is the first album of Colombian melodic, blackened death metal band, Self-Deceiver—the result of years of songwriting and dedication. Formed in São Paulo, Brazil in 2012, Jorge and Sergio moved back home to Bogota, Colombia in 2016.
The band was inspired by European (mainly Scandinavian) black and death metal bands, but also draw on influences from the American death metal scene of the 80s and 90s, resulting in a mix of tempos in each song, with melodic parts, middle beats, blast beats with tremolo guitars, symphonic/classical elements and guttural vocals.
There is something almost soothing about this album. But maybe that’s more of an insight into my inner state right now rather than an objective evaluation of the release. Either way, this is a powerfully fabulous album.
The album opens with the haunting ecclesiastical-sounding chants of “Closing the circle” (track 1) whose chiming bells give way to a slow, heavy doom-like dirge. Growling lyrics are accompanied by choral voices and sour-sounding chords. Even when the pace increases, the song still holds a melancholic pace.
The title track, “Across the Styx” (track 2) also begins with atmospheric sound effects before succumbing to a pounding, plodding beat that you can’t but nod your head to. The song builds, layer upon damned layer with the guitar solo midway through threatening to but never quite losing control.
More atomspheric effects for “Falling in grace” (track 3) before a series of arpeggios carves out a metronomic path towards a more melodic vista. There is something almost soothing about this chord progression.
“Lamb of war” (track 4) ups the tempo a little with a driven track that builds around a twisted riff. “Where the purest souls” (track 5) squeals with delight before sinking into a powerful dirge of a riff. It is without a doubt my favourite song of the album. See the video below.
A much more involved riff weaves itself through “A moment of clarity” (track 6). There are clear echoes of Scandanavian black metal throughout this track. But even the harsh vocals rest on a melodic chorus which lifts the song onto another level.
Album closer, “Our existence” (track 7) comes off the blocks all guns blazing, to mix two metaphors. It soon settles down to a pleasing pace allowing the vocals and stop-start drums and guitars wind their way around the screaming vocals. As the song matures, a soaring guitar solo brings the pace down and the dials the emotion up. Before it makes a dash for the end, finally fading to black overdubbed with some gentle motifs.
I find it hard to find fault with this album, all 37 minutes and 4 seconds of it. The music sits back almost contemplatively allowing the listener to enter into this musical event and be surrounded by wave after wave of its own gentle and vulgar display of power. I am going to be listening to this album for a long, long time to come It feels a bit too easy to give it full marks, but it absolutely deserves it.
Review score: 100%
Grand Sounds PR contacted me inviting me to preview Self-Deceiver’s latest album, thank you. I have no connections to either Grand Sounds PR or Self-Deceiver. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Grand Sounds PR, and to Self-Deceiver for continuing to create fresh, exciting blackened death metal.