Death metal bands have always been fond of tongue-twisting references to the occult and horror fiction — the genre’s finest guitarist calls himself Azagthoth, for instance — but few death metal band names evoke their bearers’ sound like the jumble of imposing, insectoid-looking syllables that is Chthe’ilist. (Their Metal Archives entry lists “Lovecraftian Horror” as their chief lyrical theme, and “Chthe’ilist” sounds as much like a face full of tentacles as a word possibly can.) This Quebecois band has worked at a very deliberate pace for its five-year run, producing just one demo to date — 2012’s well-regarded Amechth’ntaas’m’rriachth — before the upcoming Le Dernier Crépuscule, their debut LP. Those who’ve been waiting for more from them will be rewarded handsomely for their patience.
Like many of their death metal mates on the prolific Canadian label Profound Lore, Chthe’ilist build on a foundation of genre classics from the ’90s but arrive somewhere unique and timeless. In this case, the legendary Finnish death metal band Demilich (who produced just one LP, the classic Nespithe) serve as a rich source of inspiration, along with a number of other Finnish and eastern American favorites. Demilich’s singular, oddly elliptical riffing style resonates loud and clear on Le Dernier Crépuscule. The angular lope and ensuing stomp that break out a minute into “Voidspawn” could have come from a lost Demilich record, but Chthe’ilist become even more impressive when they switch gears into an atmospheric, depressive lurch in the song’s third act. The wailing, melodic guitar solo that crests this segment is just sublime, and not at all the kind of thing you’d expect from a band that’s otherwise so unfriendly sounding. This type of push/pull tension works marvelously on Le Dernier Crépuscule, which is poised to start 2016 off for death metal in very fine fashion. Listen.
Chthe’ilist’s Le Dernier Crépuscule is out 1/29 via Profound Lore.