‘Visions From Beyond’
(Chaos Records)

My first impression of this album by old-school Russian death metal outfit Old Chapel is that it will instantly appeal to fans of Entombed, specifically their album ‘Wolverine Blues’. As a fan of old-school death metal for roughly 20 years, I set a pretty high standard and am not easily impressed.

While most of the album meets my standards – it doesn’t really exceed any expectations. Visions From Beyond doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel when it comes to death metal, but I don’t think that was their goal. They play a very orthodox, traditional Death/Doom blend without any gimmicks. Lyrically they’re very death and horror oriented, which falls squarely in the old-school death metal mold.

There was one very interesting surprise on the album – the instrumental outro track “Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi” (translates to “Fear in the City of the Living Dead”, probably a nod to the 1980 Italian horror flick by the same name) is dominated by an acoustic lick occasionally punctuated with distortion. Really a welcome surprise, and a very tasteful way to close an album.

What I liked the most about Visions From Beyond is that Old Chapel is a death metal band that isn’t afraid to play slow songs. In fact, the strongest track on the album (“Towards the End”) is the slowest – it’s got a very doom-y feel to it that I really dig. The super distorted, sludgy riffs combined with “gargling razor-blades with acid” style vocals are certainly not something that will appeal to a large number of people. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – death metal isn’t supposed to appeal to everyone.

While I’m not a fan of every track on the album, overall I’d say it’s a pretty solid effort with some really good songs definitely worthy of checking out.

– Corey McElligott

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